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City of St. Helena to offer interest-free loans to businesses hurt by pandemic

City of St. Helena to offer interest-free loans to businesses hurt by pandemic

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Downtown St. Helena

Downtown St. Helena was mostly deserted in April during the COVID-19 pandemic. The shutdown took a heavy toll on local businesses.

Small businesses affected by the COVID-19 pandemic will be eligible for interest-free city loans under a program approved Tuesday by the City Council.

The council allocated $300,000 for the Small Business Sustainability (SBS) Loan Program, which will offer loans of up to $20,000 to businesses with 25 or fewer full-time-equivalent (FTE) employees that can demonstrate a hardship due to the pandemic.

There would be no interest as long as the loan is repaid in full over three to five years, depending on the size of the loan. The first payments won’t be due until May 1, 2021.

Businesses with five or fewer FTEs can apply for up to $5,000. Businesses with 6 to 25 FTEs can apply for up to $20,000.

Applications could be available as soon as this week. City staff will evaluate and approve loan applications, with the volunteer help of a local loan expert.

The city conducted a survey to assess the needs of local businesses. Out of 41 respondents, 83% said COVID-19 could either put them out of business or significantly impact their finances for months or years to come. Half of them indicated losses of over $100,000.

You can reach Jesse Duarte at 967-6803 or jduarte@sthelenastar.com.

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