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Big Sky businesses can now apply for grants to address the economic challenges resulting from the coronavirus pandemic.

Businesses may apply for the grants, which come from the new Big Sky Save Small Business Relief Fund, until Wednesday at 5 p.m. Applications are available on the Big Sky Chamber of Commerce and Visit Big Sky websites. Winners will be announced Thursday at 1:30 p.m.

The grants will be paid for with $210,000 from the town’s 3% sales tax collections. Local businesses with fewer than five employees can apply for up to $2,500, while businesses with between six and 20 employees can ask for a maximum of $5,000.

“Eighty-three percent of Big Sky chamber member businesses are sole proprietors and small businesses,” said Scott Johnson, board chair for the chamber of commerce. “We are committed to ensuring that they remain in business and are able to continue to operate through the phased reopening of Montana.”

The grant program is modeled after the U.S. Chamber Foundation’s Save Small Business Fund, which provides grants to small, locally owned businesses to help them manage the financial challenges of the pandemic. Big Sky businesses with a 59716 zip code weren’t eligible for the national program. They have also struggled to access money from economic relief programs like the federal Economic Injury Disaster Loans and the Paycheck Protection Program.

With the lack of national support, local groups said they wanted to find a way to help Big Sky businesses.

“Big Sky’s visitor economy is the lifeblood of the Big Sky community and what affords our residents the quality of life they have here,” said Candace Carr Strauss, CEO of Visit Big Sky and the Big Sky Chamber of Commerce. “Travel has come to a screeching halt, but resiliency is part of our destination’s DNA.”

The Big Sky Resort Tax Board, which oversees distribution of the area’s sales tax revenue, has also given $1 million to the Big Sky Relief Fund, which provides money to local groups dealing with the fallout from the pandemic. A portion of the $1 million went to Bozeman Health to build four hospital rooms at Big Sky Medical Center, purchase ventilators and bring on additional staff for a potential influx of COVID-19 patients.

The board has said it will continue to find ways to help Big Sky through the pandemic.

“We are fortunate to be able to extend the Big Sky Resort Area District’s emergency relief efforts to help support our community’s struggling small businesses,” said board member Buz Davis.

The new grant program comes as businesses begin to reopen after about a month of closure intended to slow the spread of COVID-19. Retail stores were allowed open last week. Bars and restaurants could open Monday. However, visitors, who are crucial to Big Sky’s economy, must still self-quarantine for 14 days after arriving in Montana.

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Perrin Stein can be reached at pstein@dailychronicle.com or at 582-2648.