At its meeting Monday, April 20, the Keizer City Council voted to dedicate $45,000 in economic development money it was receiving to providing forgivable loans to support small businesses during the COVID-19 pandemic.
At the time, there was discussion of only nine $5,000 forgivable loans, but city leaders have since decided to break up the money further and offer 18 forgivable loans.
The program will offer one-time $2,500 forgivable loans designed to provide assistance to help small businesses with payroll expenses.
The eligible businesses must show that they have closed, or had a substantial change-in-service, as a direct result of COVID-19. Eligible businesses must meet all of the following requirements, the business:
1. Has been subject to change-in-service or closure order caused by COVID-19.
2. Been in operation since April 30, 2019, or earlier.
3. Have fewer than 15 employees.
4. Have payroll expenses for March and April 2020 of $2,500 or more.
5. Have not received a similar Marion County grant.
6. Is not a national chain or franchise.
Eligible businesses can fill out the application questionnaire online at: tinyurl.com/keizerloans.
The city will be taking applicants at their word when it comes to eligibility.
“The unfortunate thing is we could spend half the money providing oversight for the other half,” said Community Development Director Nate Brown.
Brown is still trying to address some concerns being brought forward, such as whether a business is still eligible if it has been shut down since early March, and as a result, had payroll expenses lower than the $2,500 threshold.
There is also some question as to whether businesses that “voluntarily” reduced hours to cut expenses or taken other action falls under the “change-in-service” umbrella.
Regardless, demand for the program had already exceeded the number of forgivable loans that will be made available.
“We had 10 application within the first hour and we’re up to 20, now,” said Brown on Tuesday, April 28.
Because of the limited funding available, qualifying applications will be chosen at random. The names of applicants businesses will be put into a bucket and drawn from that, it’s the same bucket used to appoint city councilors when vacancies occur and the sitting counselors deadlock on a vote.
Applications are due to the City of Keizer no later than May 7 with distribution of funds no later than May 21.
The money to fund the loans is being received from Marion County through its Community Prosperity program, which is funded by Oregon Lottery revenues.
Questions can be directed to the Community Development Department at 503-856-3441.