WINSTON COUNTY - Many small businesses - which have been suffering financially due to forced closures by the state due to the COVID-19 pandemic - are now beginning to reopen, but are still in need of financial assistance to cover their losses.
The Northwest Alabama Council of Local Governments (NACOLG) has announced a State Revolving Loan Fund designed to retain jobs in the region by private for-profit firms. NACOLG has categorized small businesses eligible for assistance through this program as being less than than 500 employees located within the NACOLG region of Winston, Marion, Franklin, Colbert and Lauderdale counties, noted NACOLG Executive Director Keith Jones.
In fact, NACOLG has made available $160,000 for each county, with loans being provided on a first-come, first served basis until the funds are depleted.
NACOLG’s revolving loan committee on April 23, approved the COVID-19 loan card for small businesses with a maximum amount of 500 employees. Amounts of the five-year loans will vary, with the minimum amount being $10,000 up to a maximum of $20,000, Jones explained. Terms are up to five years at two percent interest, he added.
Loan payments will be made on a yearly basis. Each year on the anniversary of the loan closing, 20 percent of the loan will be forgiven if the company has kept the same number of jobs, Jones explained.
“If you start out with 10 employees and you keep all 10 employees for five years, then your loan is totally forgiven,” Jones pointed out.
Although the loan is termed for small businesses with 500 or less employees, smaller businesses employing much less people are what NACOLG is seeking to help, Jones said.
“But you do have some plants that are hurting,” Jones added.
“When you think about $10,000 and $20,000, for major companies, that’s not enough money,” said Jones. “But (for) your small mom-and-pop (stores) with five employees, this is a perfect size to assist them during this COVID-19 pandemic.”
Businesses fitting into the appropriate category can apply online by contacting NACOLG Governmental Services Director Tiffany Boyd at firstname.lastname@example.org. Boyd will send out applications to interested businesses.
“All businesses are important, but the small family-owned business, they are the backbone of the economy of most rural communities,” said Jones. “They are the ones who have hurt the most during this pandemic. The NACOLG committee is committed to help these businesses get through these critical times.”
Applications can be made for these loans either by businesses that are being reopened or those that remain closed, according to Jones. Applications for these loans will expire on Dec. 31, 2020.
“As we get closer to the end of the calendar year, if some counties have utilized all of their money and some counties have not, we can always transfer and increase the amount to the county with the low volume,” Jones pointed out.
A member of the NACOLG Revolving Loan Fund Committee helping to decide which businesses receive the loans hope businesses take advantage of this program.
“It’s a great opportunity,” the committee member said.
Once Boyd receives the applications, the committee will be in charge of reviewing the applications most likely by teleconference, the committee member said. The committee will make the ultimate decision as to the loan, the committee member added.
The size of the business making application should not matter, officials said.
“That is not going to make a difference as to whether or not it’s approved or not,” the committee member pointed out.
Lilly Abigail’s, a boutique in Double
Springs, applied for the federal government’s Payroll Protection Program.
“We kept paying payroll, but we haven’t been able to keep the cash flow that we would have had, had we been open,” noted April Flake, one of the store owners.
“You still have a power bill. You still have a water bill. You still have rent,” Flake said.
Haleyville Mayor Ken Sunseri strongly urged businesses that meet the proper criteria to check out the revolving loan program offered through NACOLG.
“At each anniversary of the loan, if the same number of employees are still employed, there’s a 20 percent forgiveness,” Sunseri stressed. “So in five years, if you maintain the same number of employees, you’ll have zero debt on it..
NACOLG’s loan opportunity is being advertised on the City of Haleyville and the Haleyville Area Chamber of Commerce websites and can also be found at nacolg.org under news.
“It’s important that we get the information out,” Sunseri stressed. “There’s only $160,000 for each county, so it’s going to be limited, but it’s another avenue people have to get funding to keep their businesses open.”
See complete story in the Northwest Alabamian.