In order to support small business employers facing financial impacts and potential layoffs from the novel coronavirus 2019 (COVID-19), Worknet Merced County has established the COVID-19 Reopen Merced County Fund. The fund will provide grants to small employers experiencing economic stresses in order to prevent potential layoffs or facility closures during COVID-19.

Worknet Merced County has designated $160,000 of local and state Rapid Response funding for the COVID-19 Reopen Merced County Fund. Applications will be accepted beginning May 18, 2020 and continuing through two phases of funding.  The first phase of funding will be in the amount of $60,000, with the second phase of funding beginning on July 15, 2020 in the amount of $100,000.  Funding will continue until the repeal of the State of California’s Emergency Order related to COVID-19, or until funds are exhausted.



Eligible applicants include businesses or industry associations that:

  • Have a business location in Merced County (NOTE: funds may only be utilized for Merced County locations)
  • Have 50 employees or less
  • Are up-to-date on Unemployment Insurance (UI) taxes and are in good standing with the state of California, to be submitted via attestation on the grant application
  • Can demonstrate a need to prevent layoffs which would occur due to the impacts of COVID-19


Funding Availability

  • Businesses with 1-25 employees are eligible for total grant funding of $1,000
  • Businesses with 26-50 employees are eligible for total grant funding of $2,000


Use of Funds

Employers must utilize the funds to create solutions that mitigate layoffs. Requests must be reasonable, necessary, and directly related to preventing potential layoffs or facility closures as a result of COVID-19 and must have taken place on March 19, 2020 through the end of the grant period, which is two months after the awarding of funding. All applications will be reviewed by Worknet Merced County.

Examples of permissible activities include, but are not limited to:

  • Purchasing remote access equipment or software that allows employees to work from home rather than being laid off (e.g. computers, printers, telephones, headsets, video conferencing software, etc.);
  • Paying for services or tools for restaurants or retail establishments to convert to online sales or delivery during Shelter at Home orders;
  • Purchasing cleaning/sanitation supplies and/or services that will allow an essential small business to maintain an on-site workforce as a result of exposure reduction (view Merced County’s essential businesses); and/or
  • Other creative approaches and strategies to reduce or eliminate the need for layoffs.

Funds may not be used to:

  • Pay for employee wages or benefits
  • Support services for employees such as childcare, transportation costs, lodging expenses, or meals.


Grant Requirements

The COVID-19 Reopen Merced County Fund was created from federal Workforce Innovation and Opportunity Act (WIOA) funding. As a result, selected employers must attest to the Certifications and Assurances and complete the contract process before funds are expended. Funds will be reimbursed after expenditures are made. Businesses will be required to submit brief performance reports and proof of expenses before reimbursements are issued. Performance reports will include number of jobs saved, estimated amount of annual wages saved, and project-specific measures and results.

Entities receiving an award may be subject to local, state, or federal monitoring. Fund recipients must retain receipts, copies of invoices, grant application, and grant submission paperwork for at least three years beyond the term of the grant period.  Monitoring will include follow-up to ensure that employers maintain the paperwork related to the grant.

Only one award per business will be made.

A small budget is required as part of the application. You may download the template prior to starting your application by pressing the button below.


What To Expect If You Are Funded

  1. An award letter and contract template will be sent to you via the email address you provided on the application;
  2. A phone call will be scheduled with Worknet Merced County staff to ensure questions are answered;
  3. Upon contract execution, the awarded business will submit invoices and/or receipts for purchases made no earlier than March 19 and no later than two months after the awarding of funds, along with the specific invoice and/or receipts and narrative forms for the grant;
  4. The County will mail a check for reimbursement of funds to you within three weeks after receiving receipts and completed invoice and narrative forms from the business;
  5. Upon expending the grant in full, Worknet Merced County will send a letter to you documenting the closing of the grant for your records;
  6. Worknet Merced County will follow up to ensure that funding documentation is maintained at your business. Documentation to be maintained will be outlined in the contractual agreement.


What You Need To Complete Your Application

  1. Total number of employees (in the company as a whole and at the specific location the application is for);
  2. Total number of part-time employees (in the company as a whole and at the specific location the application is for);
  3. The legal structure of the business (sole proprietorship, partnership, corporation, S corporation, limited liability corporation);
  4. Your business license number;
  5. How your business has been affected by COVID-19;
  6. Number of employees whose jobs are affected by COVID-19;
  7. What funding will be used for and how the funding will allow for employees to maintain their jobs;
  8. Number of jobs that will be saved if funding is distributed;
  9. Specific items requested with estimated costs.

For more information, contact Ranjeev Dosanjh at 209.724.2083.

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