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How Mariposa County is Using Grants Software to Streamline COVID-19 Relief to Local Businesses

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Mariposa County, California is known for its scenic beauty and, more famously, as the home of Yosemite National Park.

In addition to hosting one of the oldest national preserved areas, Mariposa County is home to 17,000 residents and many local businesses that help the community thrive. As Economic Development Specialist for the County, Tara Schiff’s economic development focus was to recruit and attract new businesses, while helping with the retention and expansion of existing businesses. She worked with practitioners to help them grow their businesses through various opportunities, helped train the local workforce and wrote grants for programs to support basic economic development. After the COVID-19 pandemic hit, everything changed. 

Now, Tara’s focus has shifted to helping businesses survive the economic devastation of the pandemic. “After COVID hit, I became laser focused on business retention and survival as well as writing grants to obtain funding for local business relief,” she said. 

Saving Paperwork By Taking Grants Online

Our hero of the story, Tara, advocated moving the County’s grants research process online to find grants faster while streamlining the acquisition of any awarded funding. Prior to eCivis, she recalls the challenges of having to submit grant proposals through paper-based processes with everything sorted into heavy binders. She noted how difficult it would have been to continue managing this way after the pandemic forced governments to go completely virtual. 

“Before, nothing was electronic and everything was paper-based,” Tara shared. “Two months into my position there was a fire downtown. I just thought if we had lost that documentation it would have been devastating for our roughly $20 million grant portfolio.”

She remembered having to mail binders to Community Development Block Grant (CDBG) and other funders. “Before we went online, everything in those binders required two copies, so we’d have to mail at least four of these 10 lb binders.” 

Through eCivis’ pre-award grants software, Tara and her team were even able to win a $6.3 million grant to renovate aging streets and update infrastructure in the County’s only commercial district. The objective of this project was to help retain and attract businesses prior to COVID-19. 

Helping Local Businesses Stay Afloat

Today, Tara says that grants have been vital to disaster recovery for local businesses. She and her team have been focused on getting CDBG and other emergency funding. 

“Right now, through CDBG we had $78,000 in revolving loan funds (RLF) that we were able to transfer and reimburse businesses with for COVID-19 related out-of-pocket costs,” she said.

By moving the grants research process to eCivis’ software, she and her team can quickly identify relevant grants needed for disaster recovery. Additionally, with the Department of Housing and Urban Development (HUD) moving its CDBG program online, Mariposa County can streamline CDBG funding and other reimbursements to get aid to businesses faster than ever before. 

“As CDBG rolls out its own online grants portal, it helps put Mariposa County ahead of the game [since we’ve been online for seven years now] and in the driver’s seat when it comes to attaining that funding,” Tara said. 

Going forward, Tara is hoping to help the County use CDBG funding for businesses that are 50 to 70 percent below their net revenue profit. 

“We’re facing a real emergency and we’re hoping to help businesses put revenue back into their bank accounts,” she concluded.

 

Ready to be the hero of your own story? Let us help you simplify your grants management so you can drive more impact in your community. 

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