CORNWALL, Ontario – Cornwall City Council has created a $500,000 loan fund to support small businesses in Cornwall.
The fund will be dolled out to businesses in $5,000 allotments, split in two payments.
The first payment of $2,500 would be immediate to help sustain the business, the second half would serve as a transitional fund for businesses who need to pivot their model in order to re-open; such things might include installing plexiglass to protect cashiers from being infected with COVID-19.
Businesses that are eligible to apply for one of the $5,000 loans must be for-profit enterprises that operate in Cornwall with 25 or fewer employees which can prove that they have been adversely affected by the COVID-19 pandemic.
The City will be creating the fund by dipping into the Brownfields Reserve. The Brownfields Reserve is a $1 million fund used to reimburse businesses who clean-up toxic lands for development.
The City plans to fully repay the $500,000 taken from the Brownfield Reserve as the loans are repaid. If businesses repay $4,000 of their $5,000 loan by Dec. 31, 2022, then $1,000 of that loan will be forgiven.
Mark Boileau, City of Cornwall’s General Manager of Planning and Infrastructure explained that time was of the essence in establishing this Small Business Emergency Loan Program.
“It is something that needs to be turned around quickly,” said Boileau. “There are businesses that are facing hardship and need this quickly.”
The deadline to apply for the fund is May 15. Cornwall’s Chief Administrative Officer (CAO) Maureen Adams stated that application forms should be available on the City of Cornwall website by April 30.
“Small businesses are hurting, no question about it,” said Councillor Claude McIntosh. “You can open the doors again, but will people come in. Bars and restaurants especially.”
Concerns were raised over the number of applications that the City might receive, with Mark Boileau estimating that there were roughly 2,000 businesses in Cornwall, with the fund only able to cover 100 of them.
Boileau stated that should the City receive a large number of applications, that he would return to Council with the idea of the program being revisited.
Councillor Syd Gardiner voiced his support for the fund, but asked what would happen if a business shutdown without being able to repay their loan.
“The whole goal of this program is to provide support to those businesses that are detrimentally affected,” said Adams. “Is there a risk, definitely.”