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Battelle Energy Alliance is starting a grant program to help local small businesses, many of which have been hit hard by the shutdown and economic slowdown that have accompanied coronavirus.

Last week Idaho National Laboratory announced the launch of the charitable initiative INL Cares to help people impacted by the virus, kicking it off with a $60,000 donation to two local food pantries. Battelle is the contractor in charge of the lab’s day-to-day operations.

Now, Battelle is partnering with Idaho Falls’ Small Business Development Center to deliver grants of $2,000 to $4,000 for up to 50 local small businesses to aid in their recovery. To be eligible, a business must be in eastern Idaho; have annual sales of $5 million or less and have had 50 or fewer employees on March 1; have been in business for more than a year; and have scaled back, such as by laying workers off or cutting their hours, closing or cutting hours of operation, during the pandemic.

“We recognize that many businesses in our area had to close their doors or make changes to their processes in order to stay open or re-open,” said INL Director and Battelle President Mark Peters. “We are honored to offer some assistance to these businesses as they work to protect their customers and employees.”

For information or to apply, go to inlcares.inl.gov.

Reporter Nathan Brown can be reached at 208-542-6757. Follow him on Twitter: @NateBrownNews.