City of Columbia Awards $1.4 million to 323 Local Businesses Impacted by Covid-19May 21, 2020 12:13PM ● By David Dykes
By David Dykes
Recognizing the enormous financial impact on local businesses resulting from operational changes and closures due to Covid-19 containment and social isolation measures, Columbia City Council in March unanimously passed an economic sustainability plan.
Now, the city says it has made 323 awards – totaling $1.4 million in revenue assistance.
The plan provides forgivable loans for short-term financial relief to small businesses, located within the corporate limits of Columbia, impacted by a loss of revenue because of Covid-19.
“The foundation of Columbia’s economic success is through the stability of our locally owned businesses, many of whom were directly impacted by the social distancing pause button needed to slow the spread of the novel coronavirus in our communities," said Mayor Steve Benjamin. "Because our City Council is dedicated to working for working people, it was vital to enact the Resilient Columbia Small Business Stabilization Plan quickly to sustain our local economy, and we see the funding has been crucial in helping these small businesses weather this pandemic storm.”
However, City Manager Teresa Wilson said the city has exhausted funds allocated for the program and it is seeking opportunities through federal programs for additional funding.
To date, the stabilization funds have reached 323 businesses, many with staffs of five or less people, Benjamin said.
More than $410,000 has gone directly to either maintaining rent or lease payments, as well as meeting payroll, he said.
The forgivable loans, with an average amount of $4,300, have reached:
• 14.9 percent (48) restaurants
• 17 percent (55) salons/barber shops
• 12.1 percent (39) professional services
• 13.3 percent (43) retail
• 2.5 percent (8) construction companies.
Other types of businesses awarded the sustainability loans are cleaning services, catering firms, daycares, event rentals, gyms, consulting agencies, photography studios & technology companies.
The awarded companies have been in business:
• 1-2 years – 15.2 percent (49)
• 3-5 years – 21.4 percent (69)
• 6-10 years – 18.9 percent (61)
• More than 10 years – 44.6 percent (144).
• Minority and Minority Veterans – 37.5 percent (121)
• Non-minority women – 19.2 percent (62).
“Coronavirus poses a unique threat, but with your help we are going to get through this difficult time," one business owner who received a sustainability loan told city officials. "We are using 100 percent of the funds for our employee payroll. Thank you for your support, your leadership during this time, and for your speedy action.”
“This is great news as I was highly considering that I should close if I don’t have the finances," said another. "You might have just saved my business from going under!”
For more information go to resilient.columbiasc.gov