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Loan program for small businesses receives huge response

COLUMBIA, Mo. (KMIZ)

The Microenterprise Recovery Loan Program in Columbia opened at 8 a.m. on Wednesday, and closed shortly before noon when the city received as many applications as they had funding for.

Housing Programs Manager Randy Cole said the $90,000 for the project came from projects from the previous year that are either delayed or no longer moving forward.

Businesses with five or fewer employees are eligible for the forgivable loans of up to $5,000.

"One of the things about Columbia and this region is it's always been very supportive of entrepreneurs and startup businesses through the years, and so we have a lot of businesses that would fall into that, into that employee count if you will," said Matt McCormick with the Columbia Chamber of Commerce.

"We just started getting an outpouring of requests for assistance for local businesses. You know, I think that's been seen across the country," Cole said.

"A lot of these smaller businesses are really the type of businesses that make and define Columbia. You know, a lot of its culture and what it is and makes Columbia unique," he said.

The loans are also meant to help businesses with owners who are in a low to moderate income household, or businesses that maintain 51% of its employees are in low to moderate income households.

"That's really what our funds are intended to go for is to help workers and families receive some support, and there's a really good framework in the rigs for helping small businesses," Cole said.

McCormick said the Columbia Chamber of Commerce helped push the word out about the program to small businesses and startup companies in the area.

"It gives them the opportunity to hopefully bridge some gap in there that they might have due to business interruption that's going on," McCormick said.

McCormick said he was not surprised to see such a large response from local businesses within the span of about four hours.

"One of the things about Columbia and this region is it's always been very supportive of entrepreneurs and startup businesses through the years, and so we have a lot of businesses that would fall into that, into that employee count if you will," he said.

McCormick said it is still important to provide assistance when possible to businesses of this size, even though they do not employ as many people as other businesses within the community.

"Small businesses in general, if you look at it as an industry is one of the largest industries anywhere. Right? It's the largest industry across the nation," McCormick said. "For Columbia, you know, I know our membership mirrors kind of what's our makeup in the community about 82, 85 percent of our membership is made up of small businesses of 25 or less."

He also said businesses of this size may not have the same security other larger businesses might.

"If you're a startup business you might not have enough years under your belt where you've been able to build up a reserve, you know, or some of those things that you can tap into," he said.

It could only be a few weeks before businesses start receiving payments from the program.

"Once everything's in place and everything meets all the program's criteria we will issue a check. We're thinking that whole turnaround time will be about two weeks," Cole said.

McCormick said if businesses did not have a chance to apply or are not awarded the money they can look for other resources on the chamber's website at https://columbiamochamber.com/.

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Sydney Olsen

Sydney Olsen reports in the evenings during the week and on the weekend.

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