Local businesses affected by Gov. Jared Polis’ order to close non-essential services could receive loans up to $5,000 from the city after Montrose City Council Tuesday approved a Small Business Administration loan fund.
Orders from the governor amid the COVID-19 outbreak have meant many businesses have either been mandated to close down or have seen significant decreases in revenue. The assistance program, which has three parts, was first discussed at Monday’s city council work session as a way to help small local businesses survive financially until the pandemic has passed.
The Montrose Small Business Emergency Loan Fund is available for businesses that were required to close due to the governor’s order. Up to $5,000 will be available per business, with no interest or closing costs, as well as 12 months of no repayment. Applications will be selected based on need.
A sales tax deferral is available for businesses with $2 million or less in gross annual revenue. While the businesses will not need to pay sales tax remittance for 90 days, they will still be required to report monthly.
Cooperative marketing grants will also be available to businesses that work in groups of three. The city will pay up to $1,000 of marketing expenses for the three-business groups, and groups will be selected based on need and “ability to work together as a business community.”
The funds for the assistance program will come out of the existing Greater Montrose Opportunity Loan Fund, Downtown Opportunity Loan Fund, and remaining DDA Operational Account monies. The loan program will begin with $300,000 to distribute to businesses in need.
“We really think $300,000 would be a great place to start, it’s already sitting in our accounts… it’s just putting money that’s already there toward its intended purpose,” City Manager Bill Bell said.
City council also discussed the selection process, and decided that because the application gives businesses the opportunity to give details on their situation, recipients of the loan will be selected based on need.
“When we’re reviewing the applications, we’ll be comparing financial statements from last year to what they have coming in at this time,” Director of Business Innovation Chelsea Rosty said.
While city council acknowledged that the program will not be perfect, it is a solution to assist businesses through the pandemic.
“For tonight, this is a great step forward to help our community,” council member Roy Anderson said.
The motion to establish the program was passed unanimously, and applications will be open starting on April 1. More information can be found at cityofmontrose.org/covid19 under Business Resources.
“Hopefully it will be helpful to our small businesses in town, and hopefully we can make a difference,” said Mayor Pro-Tem Barbara Bynum. “I’m excited to move this program forward for our small businesses.”
In other news, discussion took place about financing of the new police department building and whether to postpone the vote due to shifts in interest rates due to the pandemic. City council decided to vote at the meeting, and the motion was unanimously passed on second reading with a four percent interest rate.
Judy Ann Files also delivered her final comments as a council member.
“I’m taking the opportunity to say thank you to all of you. This has been an amazing ride for me,” Files said. “I never could’ve imagined my last meeting could’ve been me, sitting by myself in my living room. But I think it’s for the best.”
The next regular city council meeting will take place April 21. An open public meeting will also take place on April 13 with city council as well as any newly-elected council members.