DE PERE, Wis. (WFRV) – For over a month small businesses in the state have been shut because of COVID-19, with all business owners wondering how they will survive. But Local 5 reports in De Pere, the city has started a program to give small businesses hope.
It’s been a month since non-essential businesses were forced to close to stop the spread of COVID-19. But with that decision, De Pere’s director of development services says many small businesses in his city are feeling pain.
“Some are hurting because they have some rents they may not be able to cover, some are worried that their employees may not come back if they find other employment,” said Dan Lindstrom.
Lindstrom says many entrepreneurs are struggling, so De Pere created the Small Business Pandemic Response loan, to provide needed capital to cover their expenses.
“The city elected to create a program, a zero-interest loan program, with 12 months of deferred payments for a total of four years of no interest,” Lindstrom said.
The city set aside half a million dollars for the program. Those eligible can get a loan up to $5,000 or $10,000. And so far Lindstrom says many small businesses have applied – positively impacting 370 employees.
“So far we’ve received about 35 applications accounting for about $200,000 in requests. Right now we’re at about a week turnaround time frame, from the time we get applications into the time we get a note signed and a check out the door,” Lindstrom said.
The city is also working with Definitely De Pere and the De Pere Chamber, providing seed money for their business assistance programs. Efforts that Lindstrom hopes keeps De Pere’s business districts healthy.
“It’s much easier to save a business, than it is to recruit a new one,” he said.
Lindstrom says he has also taken calls from 15 municipalities, all looking to replicate De Pere’s program.