City Council will be holding a special meeting on Monday at 4:30 to consider a Small Business Emergency Loan Program. The meeting will be virtual (i.e. a conference call), and I will post call-in information for anyone who wants to listen once that is available.
This emergency loan program is the result of an idea that I pitched to our city manager as a way to address the cash flow issues that many of our small businesses are now facing as a result of the shutdown orders that have forced many of them to severely curtail or, in many cases, completely reinvent their businesses. After a lot of collaboration with Adrian and his team, I think we have come up with a very workable solution.
The Montcross Area Chamber of Commerce recently did a survey of local businesses following the initial round of shut-down orders. Of those that responded, 80% indicated that they were concerned with cash flow issues, and 63% said that they needed resources for recovery funding for business operations and revenue disruption. This program is designed to address these short-term cash flow needs (allowing them to pay rent, utilities, payroll, etc.) and allow these businesses to remain open and solvent until they are able to tap more long-term state and federal assistance that is slowly working its way through the system but is still likely weeks away.
This is the general outline of the program:
-Funding will be available for up to 40 loans of $10,000 each for small businesses in Belmont-The loans will be unsecured with a term of 36-months and an interest rate of 7%
-No payments will be required within the first 12 months of the loan-
A three-person staff committee will review and approve loan applications with oversight by the city manager and city council
-Funding for this program will come from the $400,000 budgeted surplus that was scheduled to go into the city savings account at the end of the fiscal year. So, there will be no impact to other areas of the budget.
You can find a more complete outline of the program here: https://cityofbelmont.civicweb.net/document/20709/AAC650ABBB874BC69D523F1A3065EBC5-.pdf?handle=3936F9BDE52049B8BDE96CF729AF770A
The idea is that these loans will address the immediate cash needs of our small businesses now and, then when they have been able to tap into SBA assistance, etc. later, they can roll these loans over into that assistance.
I am, of course, interested to hear your feedback on this (especially from our small business owners). Belmont has spent many years building up what I think is a very vibrant small businesses environment that is an integral part of our community. So, I want to make sure that we are doing what we can to help them weather a storm that no one could have predicted or planned for.