Cobb business entrepreneurs and innovators are getting another chance to receive small assistance grants from a pool of $50,000 aimed at helping local companies grow, create jobs and maintain their presence in the county.

The $50,000 was recently set aside by the Development Authority of Cobb County, which last year established the Cobb Innovation Fund with its first $50,000 contribution.

On Tuesday, Cobb’s Board of Commissioners considered a meeting agenda item to enter into an agreement with the development authority to manage the fund as part of the county’s Entrepreneurship and Innovation Incentive Program.

The program was approved by commissioners in February 2018 and is funded by the development authority.

The terms of the intergovernmental agreement between the county and the development authority will be “essentially identical” to those in their 2018 agreement in respect of the first grant last year, a report to commissioners by Cobb Community Development Director Jessica Guinn states.

“To date, three entrepreneurs have received grant monies from the Cobb Innovation Fund and there are several applicants under review by the newly formed grant subcommittee,” Guinn’s report states.

The three grant winners were VNDE Blockchain, Clutch Creations and Brilliant Coworking.

“I’m really excited for this,” said Kristi Frank, founder and chief executive of Clutch Creations, a fashion accessories company, regarding the county’s help. “I grew up here and I want to help other entrepreneurs and be more involved in the county. This is a wonderful opportunity for myself, all women entrepreneurs, and others who want to pursue their dreams.”

Brilliant Coworking is a shared working space in east Cobb and VNDE Blockchain is a student-focused marketplace for financing higher education, county documents show.

Each firm’s owner had to submit an extensive business plan and complete entrepreneurship training to be eligible for the grants, which are evaluated by a subcommittee that recommends recipients for commissioners’ approval.

The subcommittee is composed of stakeholders from Kennesaw State University, SelectCobb, Cobb Travel and Tourism, Cobb Young Professionals, and the Coalition of Cobb County Business Associations, per the county’s website.

Applications for the next round of grant recipients closed at the end of August but more applications will be accepted in future funding rounds.

Attached to Guinn’s report to commissioners is a draft intergovernmental agreement, stating “the county has determined that there exists an immediate need and interest in incentivizing entrepreneurs and innovators in the county and to add to, expand and improve the overall economic climate of the county by creating jobs from spin-off technology.”

Cobb’s entrepreneurs and innovators program provides employment opportunities by creating jobs in the county which develop and promote trade, commerce, industry and employment opportunities for the public good and the general welfare, the draft agreement states.

“The program and the use of the proceeds of the grant as cash grants for eligible companies will be in the public interest of the inhabitants of the county and will be in furtherance of the public purposes for which the authority was created and is existing,” it states, showing the agreement would end on Oct. 31, 2020.

Eligibility for the grant money includes being a resident of the county and employing fellow residents at a business in the county that does not make more than $1 million in annual gross revenue, as well as committing to remain in the county for three years.

The money, administered either in small grants of up to $1,500 or in large grants up to $10,000, can be used on startup funding, workforce expansion, specific operational funds, or to purchase equipment, furnishing or machinery, program documents show.

It can also be used on building renovations and to expand services, marketing material or products.

Grants cannot be used to pay the business owner’s salary, on debts or loans, to purchase personal equipment or real estate, or to fund private membership clubs.

Foreign controlled businesses, pyramid schemes, sale or investment property and political activities are not eligible for funding.

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