New loan fund being developed by city to support local businesses
At its digital meeting on Monday, the council received a recommendation from staff to tap into the city’s revolving loan fund. The fund, made up of the remaining money that the city receives in the form of state or federal grants, has $ 900,000 and is a tool for economic development.
The recommendation, to use $ 250,000 for a special loan program ending December 31, was accepted by the board. Under the program, businesses will be able to receive loans of up to $ 25,000 with 1% interest and 66 months of amortization. During the first six months, no interest will be due.
The city is following the lead of the economic development of Greater Bemidji, which has created a special emergency loan program for local small businesses. Greater Bemidji is investing $ 250,000 in the fund and, at the end of March, Beltrami County also provided $ 250,000. The Grand Bemidji is also looking to add an additional $ 250,000 from the George W. Neilson Foundation.
“The stories we hear from business people are quite heartbreaking,” said Dave Hengel, executive director of Greater Bemidji. “So we’re really grateful that the city is having this conversation.”
According to Greater Bemidji, its loan program will work with local banks, where banks would access the fund to support affected businesses. The maximum amount available for the Greater Bemidji program is $ 50,000, but the organization expects an average of around $ 30,000.
Steve Jones, director of community development for Bemidji, said he had been in contact with Greater Bemidji about this and noted that it would be easier for the city to access its revolving loan fund and create its own program.
In addition to the two local programs, Greater Bemidji also operates a loan program from the Minnesota Department of Employment and Economic Development. The state’s program allows loans ranging from $ 2,500 to $ 35,000, depending on the economic hardship and the needs of the business.
City council also learned on Monday that the COVID-19 situation would likely continue until the summer. According to Dr David Wilcox, vice president of Sanford Health, a peak is likely in June.
“We were able to predict that this is not a sprint, but a marathon experience,” said Wilcox. “We are very early in the stages. It looks like we can start ramping up our caseload later in May. We expect a peak in mid-June and a decrease in August. It is three or four proposition. of a month which we are at the beginning. “
In total, Sanford of Bemidji has had seven positive cases, 139 negative cases and 17 are pending. Sanford officials noted Monday that they were individuals from Beltrami County.
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