CORINTH, Texas – May 8, 2020 – Denton County Commissioners today unanimously designated $2.2 million in past CoServ Capital Credits to assist small businesses in Denton County affected by the COVID-19 pandemic.
Businesses can apply for OPEN (Operational Plan for Economic Normalization) grants, up to $10,000 each, from May 13 through May 20. For details, please visit DentonCounty.gov/OPEN, email OPENgrants@dentoncounty.gov or call 940-349-4280.
County Judge Andy Eads said this isn’t a first-come, first-serve grant, so there’s no need to rush through the application on the first day.
“You will have an abundance of time to apply for the grant,” Judge Eads said. “We just don’t want somebody to find out about this grant program after the fact. The stronger our businesses are, the stronger our families are because it reduces the tax burden on all our homes.”
The source for the $2.2 million is CoServ’s Capital Credit Retirements to the county over the past 20 years. The county had set the money aside for a rainy day, and this is certainly such an occasion – 45,000 people have applied for unemployment in Denton County since March 16.
“This is a great reminder of the impact that Capital Credits can have,” said CoServ President/CEO Donnie Clary. “We return excess margins to our Members, and they re-invest it in their communities.”
Because CoServ Electric is a nonprofit cooperative, margins – excess revenues over expenses – are divided proportionally by the amount of electricity each CoServ Member uses throughout the year. These margins, called Capital Credits, are allocated each year to Members and former Members. At the discretion of the CoServ Board, these Capital Credits are retired (paid). Since 2003, CoServ has returned $146 million in Capital Credits to Members.
The online portal will utilize software that was originally licensed to CoServ for CoServ Charitable Foundation (CCF) grant applications. Pennsylvania-based WizeHive created Zengine, a software application that allows companies to manage grants, scholarships and other “heroic missions,” according to the company’s website.
“When WizeHive heard about this plan, they stepped up immediately to help us out,” said Vicki Sargent, CoServ’s Director of Community Engagement. “We thank them for their quick work in setting up this portal for Denton County businesses.”
The OPEN grants will target businesses that have been closed the longest because of the coronavirus. Businesses with 50 employees or fewer are eligible to apply for phase one of the grant but must meet additional eligibility requirements. Businesses that are completely closed can apply for 100 percent of the grant, while partially closed businesses can receive 75 percent.
The eligible amount is based on average monthly payroll costs for the first quarter or fixed costs, whichever is greater. The funds can be used for payrolls costs, contract labor, supplier payments, rent or interest on mortgage payments (excluding personal residence), or the rent or lease of equipment.
Michael Talley, Denton County Economic Development Director, said many small businesses are “struggling to stay alive” during this coronavirus pandemic. These grants could help them and their employees until they can open at full capacity.
Because the funds are coming from CoServ’s Capital Credit allocations, the grants will not affect Denton County’s budget or tax rate, commissioners said. Also, the grant process will be impartial, and county commissioners will not be involved.
CoServ is an electric and natural gas distribution company serving North Texas. Incorporated as Denton County Electric Cooperative in 1937, CoServ Electric is one of the largest electric cooperatives in the country, serving more than 250,000 electric meters across Denton, Collin and four other North Texas counties. CoServ Gas was established in 1998 and serves more than 130,000 gas meters in Denton, Collin and Kaufman counties. CoServ’s mission is to deliver excellent service to our Members and Customers by providing safe and reliable energy solutions.