Fulton County is stepping up during the novel coronavirus pandemic to help ensure that small businesses remain viable during their closures, but needs the help of citizens and businesses.
The Fulton County Mortgage, Rent, and Utilities Business Loan Program will not only give small business owners added financial security to reopen but will benefit local healthcare organizations with needed supplies and equipment.
According to Matt Gilroy, executive director of the Fulton County Economic Development Corporation (FCEDC), loan applications for the program will be available beginning Wednesday, April 29. Small businesses in the county that can provide proof of need may be eligible to receive an emergency loan of up to $2,500 within 48 hours of applying.
The 1% interest loans will be funded by donations from county individuals and businesses. Recipient businesses will repay the loans within 18-24 months. One hundred percent of the loan payments and the interest will then be contributed to the county’s Heart Radiothon in 2021 and 2022.
The money will be used to purchase supplies and equipment for area health organizations.
“We are raising funds parallel with making loans,” Gilroy said. “It is a leap of faith, but in my experience people in Fulton County always step up in times of crisis, and I believe we will be able to accomplish our goals.”
He added, “We are hoping that businesses recognize this program as an emergency program for those small businesses that absolutely need the funds.”
The one-page application will become available at www.fcedc-ohio.com. Small businesses will need to submit a bill they need to pay or provide proof of their mortgage or rent.
Gilroy said it hasn’t been determined whether the loan program will be a one-time venture. He said the program will be based on need, adding, “Ideally, we hope that enough money is raised that businesses that need the loan can get it.”
He said of the more than 1,000 businesses operating in Fulton County, “I have yet to talk with anyone that is planning to permanently close. However…(t)here are many challenges that we have to overcome.”
Gilroy said experts in economic development believe between 5% and 7% of businesses will permanently close in the United States. “In Fulton County, we want to do everything we can to prevent that,” he said.
Maxell Smith Jr., board member of Fulton County Heart Radiothon, said the organization is grateful to be involved with the FCEDC loan program.
“We want to make sure these dollars that are raised through this are used to purchase health equipment and supplies that will impact our Fulton County citizens,” he said. “Truly, everyone wins on this deal. I just hope Fulton County people take care of small businesses. This is a life-changer, so we hope this will help people.”
Other efforts toward small businesses include the federal government’s reallocation of funds for Small Business Administration programs, a U.S. Chamber of Commerce loan program, and JobsOhio programs for manufacturing companies.
More steps to save small businesses may be needed, “but I believe that citizens and businesses in Fulton County step up to challenges and we will continue to work hard to get through this together,” Gilroy said.
Businesses seeking information or support can email [email protected] or call 419-337-9270.
Donations can be sent to: FCEDC, 9460 County Road 14, Wauseon, Ohio 43567 or to Heart Radiothon, 1493 N. Shoop Ave. Unit B, Wauseon, Ohio 43567.
Reach David J. Coehrs at 419-335-2010.