Town administration is exploring the potential of creating a COVID Recovery Grant program to assist local small businesses to navigate government COVID-19 assistance programs.

The idea is based upon a program established in the City of Leduc in partnership with its chamber of commerce to help businesses obtain the professional service. Several other municipalities have been offering similar programs, including Wetaskiwin and Airdrie.

"They help them understand the program, they help collect the required information and complete documentation in accordance with the program guidelines," Mike Korman, town business development manager, explained to town council last night.

The town's economic recovery task force had agreed to bring the idea forward to council. The chamber's board of directors will be discussing the potential of becoming involved.

He says Leduc has been provided a maximum of $600 per business, and it's being administered through their chamber of commerce and funded by the city. He believes they set aside $20,000 for the program.

Exactly where the town would find the funds is one of the items the town administration would have to address.

Town council was in support of obtaining more information and was receptive to finding a way to support local businesses struggling through the pandemic.

"There is so much I'd like to do for our local business community that's absolutely suffering right now," said Councillor Patrick Wilson. "It's minimal what's at our discretion, but this feels like it might be one good avenue. I'm yea to hear more on it."

But there was a hesitancy over how extensive the program should be, and just how many businesses could be aided.

Despite this, Mayor Jeff Genung believed it was worth having administration explore the idea.

"I liked Councillor McFadden's idea about setting a limit and if we exceed that, we could come back and say more or no more."

Councillor Marni Fedeyko wants to help local businesses but questions whether this is the best way. 

"I don't know if this is necessarily the best way that I would go about that," said Fedeyko. "I know there are some other ideas talked about behind the scenes right now on how we can possibly help, which I think are still coming forward. I'm skeptical as to whether or not this is where we should be planting all our eggs in a basket."

Town administration will bring back its recommendations at a future council meeting.