SASKATOON -- The Saskatoon Regional Economic Development Authority has started a grant program to support the local economy during the COVID-19 pandemic.

"As our community faces the unprecedented task of limiting the spread of the COVID-19 pandemic, local businesses have been greatly affected,” SREDA President and CEO Alex Fallon said in a news release.

“Many are uncertain of how to keep up with overhead costs and remain operational – both now and in the future. SREDA is taking an active role in supporting small businesses to create a base for continued growth once the pandemic slows.”

The program will provide grants of up to $5,000 for small businesses in the Saskatoon region experiencing significant financial challenges.

Businesses must have 10 or fewer employees, including owners , and must have been in business for more than six months but less than five years. Home-based businesses are not eligible.

Preference will be given to businesses deemed non-allowable by the current Government of Saskatchewan COVID-19 response.

Applications open Tuesday with a deadline of April 6.