CITY TO OF­FER EMER­GENCY BUSI­NESS LOAN PRO­GRAM

Times Standard (Eureka) - - BUSI­NESS - By Mary Bull­winkel

A busi­ness re­siliency emer­gency loan pro­gram is be­ing es­tab­lished in For­tuna to help lo­cal busi­nesses who are suf­fer­ing from im­pacts as­so­ci­ated with the COVID-19 sit­u­a­tion.

At its meet­ing on April 6, the For­tuna City Coun­cil adopted a res­o­lu­tion that would a pro­gram with $150,000 avail­able for busi­ness loans.

Ac­cord­ing to For­tuna City Man­ager Mer­ritt Perry, this money comes from For­tuna’s Busi­ness Loan Fund. “The city has ap­prox­i­mately $500,000 in the Busi­ness Loan Fund, but I asked the City Coun­cil to start with $150,000 to see what the need is,” Perry said.

“We want to get this money to the busi­nesses who need it,” Perry said, “to the busi­nesses we want to help keep go­ing, who are strug­gling to get through this.”

It’s a way for the city to help the busi­nesses who help the city.

“The city de­pends on prop­erty tax, on sales tax, on TOT (tran­sient oc­cu­pancy tax), and we hope this can keep some For­tuna busi­nesses go­ing that we want to see around for a long time,” Perry said.

Since the stay at home or­der was is­sued by Hum­boldt County on March 19, a group of re­gional eco­nomic de­vel­op­ment pro­fes­sion­als have con­nected to form the COVID Eco­nomic Re­silience Con­sor­tium and have been in on­go­ing dis­cus­sions about how to help off­set the neg­a­tive im­pacts af­fect­ing Hum­boldt County busi­nesses.

A re­gional ef­fort and ap­proach to pro­vide bridge fi­nanc­ing to hard hit busi­nesses is in de­vel­op­ment, and ac­cord­ing to Gregg Fos­ter, ex­ec­u­tive di­rec­tor of the Red­wood Re­gion Eco­nomic De­vel­op­ment Com­mis­sion (RREDC) the hope is to be­gin ac­cept­ing loan ap­pli­ca­tions soon.

“Our pro­gram guide­lines are still be­ing fi­nal­ized,” Fos­ter said in an email, “but in gen­eral the in­ten­tion is to pro­vide fund­ing to help cash flow while the busi­ness is in the process of ap­ply­ing for SBA fund­ing. The loans will be up to $25,000, 2.5% in­ter­est with six months of no pay­ments,” he added, (and) af­ter that, we’d term out the loans over 60 months.”

Perry said For­tuna’s pro­gram is go­ing into place im­me­di­ately, and then be one piece of that re­gional ef­fort af­ter a process is es­tab­lished.

Perry said he an­tic­i­pates re­view­ing ap­pli­ca­tions from For­tuna busi­nesses for loans through the city’s pro­gram im­me­di­ately upon re­ceipt.

“Once we have an ac­cepted ap­pli­ca­tion,” Perry said, “the loan can be funded rather quickly.”

For now the max­i­mum loan through For­tuna’s pro­gram is $10,000 with a 2.5% APR sim

ple in­ter­est. The pay­ments would be de­ferred for six months from close of loan.

“$10,000 is the cap from city funds,” Perry said, “but that amount may be higher if ad­di­tional fund­ing is avail­able from other re­gional sources, such as RREDC.”

Perry also said that the Head­wa­ters Fund and Hum­boldt Area Foun­da­tion have pledged money to a re­gional pro­gram, once one is es­tab­lished.

In ad­di­tion to RREDC, the Hum­boldt Area Foun­da­tion and the Head­wa­ters Fund, oth­ers par­tic­i­pat­ing in the COVID Eco­nomic Re­silience

Con­sor­tium are the Ar­cata Eco­nomic De­vel­op­ment Cor­po­ra­tion, Pros­per­ity, and the County Eco­nomic De­vel­op­ment De­part­ment.

In the mean­time city of For­tuna staff have been work­ing closely with the For­tuna Busi­ness Im­prove­ment Dis­trict (FBID) and the For­tuna Cham­ber of Com­merce in­ter­view­ing lo­cal busi­nesses to as­sess needs. Dozens of For­tuna busi­nesses have been in­ter­viewed and For­tuna Cham­ber of Com­merce Ex­ec­u­tive Di­rec­tor Re­nee Lind­say said she ap­pre­ci­ates the City’s com­mit­ment to small busi­ness and the For­tuna com­mu­nity.

“The For­tuna Cham­ber of Com­merce is pleased to as­sist FBID and the city of For­tuna with the Busi­ness

Re­siliency Emer­gency Loan Pro­gram,” Lind­say said. “With fed­eral fund­ing tak­ing longer than ex­pected to re­ceive, these funds will be crit­i­cal in sup­port­ing our strug­gling busi­nesses. The rapid ap­proval process, fa­cil­i­tated by FBID and RREDC, will put money into the hands of our busi­ness own­ers sooner rather than later.”

“As the ex­ec­u­tive di­rec­tor of FBID, we are very ex­cited to see some of our city of For­tuna fund­ing set aside to help our For­tuna busi­nesses dur­ing COVID 19,” Dianna Rios said. She urged For­tuna busi­nesses to call FBID at 707-725-9261 with any ques­tions re­gard­ing ser­vices that are avail­able to guide own­ers through this sit­u­a­tion.

PHOTO BY MARY BULL­WINKEL, FOR THE TIMES-STAN­DARD

Pic­tured: Down­town For­tuna. The city of For­tuna has set up busi­ness re­siliency emer­gency loan pro­gram with avail­able fi­nan­cial as­sis­tance for busi­nesses neg­a­tively im­pacted by the COVID-19pan­demic.

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