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City has loans for pandemic-hit businesses

Small businesses that closed or lost cashflow during COVID-19 can approach the city Community Development office for loans, city officials said.

Council’s economic revitalization committee Friday heard from the administration about the COVID-19 Small Business Loan Program.

“It’s a revolving loan fund especially for businesses impacted by COVID-19,” said Stephanie Young, department director.

A “pot of money has been lying dormant for a number of years,” she said.

The program of small business loans originated in Williamsport in 1996, she said.

It was originally a loan for an enterprise zone for $50,000 and over the years additional grants have been coming in for such enterprise zones, she said.

Mayor Derek Slaughter and his team decided it was a good idea to use these funds to help bring business back or get existing businesses expanded.

“A number of retailers are still challenged,” Councilwoman Liz Miele, committee chair, said.

These are small shops, industries and businesses, some of which are no longer operational since the coronavirus pandemic.

The loan terms are for eligible companies with 100 employees or fewer. The maximum loan is $25,000, while the minimum is $5,000.

Adam Yoder, councilman, asked what qualifies small businesses.

Each business applying must show how it will help with job creation or retention, Young said.

“For every job retained or created the city will offer $10,000 in assistance and $5,000 for every part-time job created or retained,” Young said.

The loan is for 10 years, with the first two years payment deferred and no interested for the first five years, she said. After that, there is a nominal interest rate.

Young said she has heard businesses tell her they need to pay debt, payroll, find capital, build up inventory, and pay for utilities and rental space.

“If business ceased operations during the pandemic and have debt or invoices to be paid as a result of the closing, we can reimburse them going back to March 1,” she said.

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