DES MOINES — Iowa Governor Kim Reynolds announced Monday a plan to provide grants up to $25,000 to small businesses affected the by the COVID — 19 pandemic.

Under the plan, business that have between 2 and 25 employees to help them “weather the storm” caused by mandated closures and a general economic slowdown.

“I fully understand that this does not make up for having your businesses closed for a period of time, or your customer staying home, but it is our hope that we can help businesses weather this storm,” Reynolds said during her Monday press conference.

The plan, part of a three pronged approach through the Iowa Economic Development Authority, Iowa Workforce Development and Iowa Department of revenue.

Businesses that receive the grant will automatically be granted a sales and withholding tax extension; businesses that don’t receive the grant can also apply for that. Businesses with 50 or fewer employees can also ask for delay in their unemployment tax payment until July 31.

Officials have set aside $4 million for the plan, with $2 million coming from the Emergency funds the Legislature authorized before adjourning and $2 million form the Iowa Economic Development Authority. But officials say the program is designed to be a “stop-gap” measure until the state receives more federal funding from the expected national relief package.

“This money is simply a stopgap,” Iowa Economic Development Authority Director Debi Durham said. “It is a stopgap basically to keep the doors open because the first thing we’re dealing is keeping as many people employed as possible.”

Last week week Iowa Workforce Development Director Beth Townsend said the state had received a “staggering” number of unemployment claims — sometimes as much each day as they previously received in a month. Most of those claims she said Monday were coming from “consumer-facing” businesses such as restaurants.

“Iowa’s small businesses are the lifeblood of our communities and the engine behind our economy. Now more than ever we need to make sure they have the ability to manage their cash flow,” said Gov. Reynolds. “It’s critically important that we continue to take steps in support of our small business community during these challenging times.”

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