Five local Montrose businesses have recently received a boost from the City of Montrose’s loan program, Director of Business Innovation Chelsea Rosty said during Monday’s work session.
Rosty said these five loans are the first to go to local businesses. She said this week’s goal is to double or triple the number of loan applications from businesses.
“We’re grateful that we have this resource for our community,” Rosty said. “There’s money here that businesses can get ahold and help them through this process which is, hopefully, reopening the economy.”
These loans — which are going to Ted’s Steakhouse, SheShe Boutique, Spring Creek Yoga, Cascade Entertainment (both local movie theaters) and Amazing Glaze — came to be part of a business incentive package that was passed by Montrose City Council on March 31 to help local companies experiencing economic hardship due to COVID-19. A portion of the measure approved a $300,000 fund providing small businesses with zero-percent-interest loans with no repayment requirements for at least 12 months.
These loans, which are worth up to $5,000 per applicant, are designed to assist businesses forced to close by state mandates or those that have suffered significant financial loss due to COVID-19. Rosty said most businesses applying are asking for the full $5,000 loan amount.
Small businesses applied for these funds to help pay fixed debt, provide for employees, pay their rent and other necessary monthly expenses to make sure they can stay viable and reopen after the crisis is over.
The application process and tracking of these loans has been determined by a committee comprised of Rosty, City Manager Bill Bell, City Finance Director Shanni Wittenburg, Region 10 Loan Fund Director Dan Scinto and local business owner David Fishering of Storm King Distillery.
Though this comes at a time when businesses have had to change how they’re bringing in dollars, restaurant owners have mostly been able to stay afloat.
Rosty said she’s contacted those local proprietors and has learned that most of them have been able “to keep the lights on.” However, the owners have either manned their restaurants themselves or only kept a handful of workers on the clock.
Because of that, the city has provided other avenues besides the loan incentive.
As part of the measure, council will now defer all small business sales tax remittance for 90 days, provide zero-percent interest loans to modest-sized companies and move funds budgeted for tourism promotion, giving local businesses a means to market and advertise their services.
Businesses will not need to pay sales tax remittance for 90 days, but they’ll be required to report monthly.
The assistance program’s capital will come out of the existing Greater Montrose Opportunity Loan Fund, Downtown Opportunity Loan Fund and remaining DDA operational account monies.
Companies with less than $2 million in gross annual sales will have the option to delay city sales tax remittance for the next three months, roughly. The city believes this will keep around $3 million for area business owners who may be struggling at this time.
During the work session, Mayor Dave Bowman praised Rosty for doing “a fantastic job” in maneuvering the loan program’s process, as well as keeping city council informed on it.
Rosty said she hopes more businesses apply for these incentives, even if they have not been greatly hindered by the coronavirus.
“You’re never going to find money this cheap,” she said. “It’s zero-percent interest. It’s really a cash advance.”
Businesses can apply for the relief package on the city’s website at cityofmontrose.org/732/Businesses-Resources and then click the “complete the online application” link.