$2M in small biz loans available to Nevada County | TheUnion.com
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$2M in small biz loans available to Nevada County

John Orona
Staff Writer

Business owners can apply for a disaster loan online at https://disasterloan.sba.gov/ela or call 1‐800‐659‐2955.

The county is aggregating information to help businesses at: http://www.mynevadacounty.com/2927/Coronavirus-Guidance-for-BusinessesEmplo

The Small Business Administration this week announced it would offer long-term, low-interest loans of up to $2 million to businesses in 35 California counties impacted by the coronavirus.

While Nevada County was not included on that list, state and local officials said it will be added sometime this week — as early as today — and that businesses can begin applying online now.

“Its not too onerous, its a series of four to five forms that primarily concern financial information,” said Mark Johnson, owner of Foothill Flowers in Grass Valley.

Johnson said he’s applying for the loan because even though he believes his business can hold out for a few months, he’s already starting to feel the economic impacts.

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“I can tell over the last two weeks that business is declining and I expect it to decline even more,” Johnson said. “Depending on how the coronavirus is managed, I think we’re probably going to be OK and able to operate since 90% of our business is done over the telephone or online.”

The loans are meant to provide businesses with enough operating funds to overcome a temporary loss of revenue and can be used to pay fixed debts, payroll or other bills. Applicants must show the ability to repay the loan, demonstrate $25,000 in collateral and maintain insurance. The interest rate is 3.75% for businesses and 2.75% for nonprofits.

Johnson hopes to use the loan to cover his shop’s monthly fixed costs while scaling back his employees’ hours anywhere from one-third to one-half to keep from cutting any staff.

“I expect that we will weather this,” said Johnson, who has some weddings and other events lined up for the summer. “I don’t know if it’s going to be a two-, three- or four-month process, but I sense that probably by the middle of June things will start to stabilize. I think it will take about six to nine months after that for things to get back to normal.”

Local concern

According to Small Business Administration spokesperson Corey Williams, the agency expects to eventually add all California counties to the program after the initial declaration with just 35.

“Pretty much every business is going to be impacted by COVID-19,” Williams said. “We anticipate all the additional counties will be added to the declaration before the end of the week, hopefully.”

According to District 3 Nevada County Supervisor Dan Miller, the majority of local relief will need to come from the state and federal level. County officials are working on a business task force to help facilitate discussions and actions about how to provide those resources and support businesses. The task force will include Chambers of Commerce, the Economic Resource Council, the Sierra Business Council, the cities of Grass Valley and Nevada City and the town of Truckee, among other stakeholders.

“There’s just a lot of information coming down from the state that we’re going to be vetting and wading through, that’s what we’re going to be trying to do with that task force, as well as disseminating that information for the public to use,” Miller said.

One such proclamation that came down from the state Monday gave local jurisdictions the ability to halt evictions, foreclosures and utility shut-offs for those affected by the COVID-19 disease until April. According to Miller, that step is not a discussion point yet for the county, though as the World Health Organization-declared pandemic turns into a local economic crisis, he said what happens next is anyone’s guess.

“If this goes on for a month, two months, three months, I don’t know,” Miller said. “I know locally we don’t have the resources to deal with it on a long-term basis. I think the federal government, maybe the state government, could find some type of relief, but it’s anyone’s guess at this point because we’ve never really had to mobilize like this.”

To contact Staff Writer John Orona, email jorona@theunion.com or call 530-477-4229.


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