Nebraska outlines aid plan for ranchers, small businesses
OMAHA, Neb. (AP) — Nebraska small businesses and livestock producers that took a hit from the coronavirus pandemic will get the chance to apply for financial assistance starting Monday, state officials announced.
The state will award grants of at least $12,000 to eligible businesses with five to 49 employees and livestock producers with one to 10 employees. The programs are a part of the $1.1 billion the state received from the federal government’s coronavirus relief package.
Gov. Pete Ricketts said state officials will distribute the money on a first-come, first-served basis. The application window begins Monday and ends June 26.
Nebraska businesses have suffered major financial losses during the pandemic, and a survey last month by the University of Nebraska Omaha found that one in six are afraid they may have to close permanently.
The state’s farm economy, likewise, has lost an estimated $3.7 billion in revenue since the outbreak began, according to an analysis this week by the Nebraska Farm Bureau. Based on the $100 million available for the farm program, state officials predict that more than 8,300 small livestock producers could qualify for aid.
“These new programs are designed to get the economy going,” said Tony Goins, director of the Nebraska Department of Economic Development.
State officials will also funnel money into job-training programs and community college scholarships for residents who are now unemployed because of the pandemic. Another program will expand broadband in rural areas that lack high-speed service and offer leadership training to small businesses to help them succeed after the pandemic. Program details area available online at getnebraskagrowing.nebraska.gov.
Nebraska officials confirmed 290 new coronavirus cases on Thursday, bringing the statewide total to 16,315, according to the state’s online tracking portal. Of that number, 212 residents have died.
Hospital capacity remained steady as well, with 42% of the state’s hospital beds, 45% of its intensive care unit beds and 75% of its respirators available for use.
For most people, the coronavirus causes mild or moderate symptoms that clear up within weeks. But for others, especially older adults and people with existing health problems, the highly contagious virus can cause severe symptoms and be fatal.
The state’s new cases come as coronavirus cases are rising in nearly half the U.S. states. Despite the rising numbers, most states — including Nebraska — are rolling back restrictions meant to slow the spread of the virus.
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