Decatur City Commission moves forward with loan program for businesses affected by COVID-19 – Decaturish

Decatur, Georgia – At its regular meeting on April 6, the City of Decatur Commission approved a framework for a loan program to help businesses affected by the COVID-19 pandemic.

While many details need to be worked out, the general idea is that the city would create a $ 500,000 business loan fund. Businesses could receive up to $ 25,000, with the average loan being between $ 10,000 and $ 15,000. The loans would have a low interest rate or be interest free. The payback period would be 36 to 60 months. Loans would be limited to businesses with 25 or fewer full-time employees.

Deputy City Manager Hugh Saxon explained the idea to the city commission, which hosted a virtual meeting broadcast via the city’s website.

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The city would contribute $ 400,000 and the remaining $ 100,000 could come from the Decatur Development Authority and funds raised through the nonprofit Decatur Legacy Project.

“We develop criteria and identify a financial services partner to provide technical support,” Saxon said. “The city of Decatur is probably not the best organization to get into the loan business. There is technical expertise that we have not developed over the years. We have received support and encouragement from Georgia Cities Foundation who think this could be a possible model being used in other cities across the state.

Saxon said that as part of the process of determining who gets a loan, the city may take into account an applicant’s credit rating and whether they are up to date on their licenses and fees in 2019. The city is considering d ‘wait six months to a year before asking companies to start. repay the loans.

Saxon expected that he would bring more details of the program to discuss at the next City Council meeting.

“I’ve told people that my experience with lending money is with my kids,” Saxon said. “There are professionals doing this for a living, who can put in place a framework to provide resources to our business community and provide assistance during this crisis. We have invested a lot of resources in downtown, Oakhurst and east of Decatur and it would be a shame if we could not help with these vital community resources.

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Saxon said he had also been in discussion with the landlords and many of them recognized that their tenants could be delayed in paying rent. Mayor Pro Tem Tony Powers said people wishing to contribute to the fund could do so through Project Legacy and receive a tax deduction.

As a warning, Saxon noted that the loan program will be “riskier” than other projects in the city.

“The environment is such that there is a chance that a part will not be reimbursed,” Saxon said. “I just want everyone to be aware that this is a possible cost that we will have to face at some point.”

Commissioner George Dusenbury said the risk was worth it.

“I’m willing to take that risk and thank you for pointing it out to us, Hugh,” he said. “There will probably be a recession as a result of this, I’m glad we’ve taken this step.”

Mayor Patti Garrett agreed.

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“Our local businesses are truly the heart and soul of our community, along with our residents,” said Garrett. “This is a good first step that we are confident we can take now, and many local residents will want to support businesses in this way as well. “

Saxon said he hopes the program will be up and running in 45 to 60 days.

In other cases, City Manager Andrea Arnold has noted that Governor Brian Kemp’s shelter-in-place order in response to COVID-19 replaces local orders made by cities, including that of Decatur.

“In general, the governor’s order is broader than what was in place,” said Arnold. “We recognize the value of having this consistency across the state. There are a number of important similarities between the Governor’s Order and what the Mayor issued. “

Under the governor’s order, residents are required to stay in their homes as much as possible, unless they are using “essential services”. Restaurants can only be opened for take out and delivery orders. For more ordering information, click here.

“The city is unable to answer questions about whether or not your business can be part of critical infrastructure,” said Arnold. “If a business needs advice, it should contact the state’s Department of Economic Development. “

Arnold said she was “really proud” of the way the residents of Decatur have adjusted to the situation. She noted that the city has also waived rents for the next two months of renting non-profit space in the Legacy Park property.

“I encourage homeowners in a position to do this to consider doing the same, whether it’s residential accommodation or one of our commercial property owners,” said Arnold.

Arnold and the city commissioners also thanked the city’s first responders and sanitation workers who “move the city forward,” as Mayor Pro Tem Powers put it.

Commissioner Kelly Walsh said she wished the Commissioners could be in a room together. Walsh moderated the meeting when she stopped to crush a yellow jacket that had landed on her computer screen.

“First of all, I really miss everyone,” Walsh said. “These are extraordinary times. Our mayor, city manager and staff responded in a way we appreciate… I can say with confidence that when residents or neighbors call me, you have the best resources at your fingertips.

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