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Small businesses in Fresno struggling because of COVID-19 pandemic will able to apply for loans up to $10,000 as part of a new city program.

“I know the anxiety firsthand that people feel because you worry about your customers, whether or not they’re going to come back.”Fresno City Councilman Mike Karbassi

Mayor Lee Brand, along with the co-authors of the “Save Our Small Businesses Act,” councilmembers Mike Karbassi and Esmeralda Soria, provided details at a Monday afternoon news conference at City Hall.

While only businesses with a valid Fresno business license can apply for city funds, nearly any small business can apply for federal funds as part of the recently signed $2 trillion CARES Act.

Fresno Small Businesses Benefit

Karbassi knows how difficult this era is for small businesses. This is the longest his family’s rug-selling operation has been closed in 41 years.

Businesses with up to 25 employees — even a sole proprietorship — may apply. The deadline is this Sunday, April 12.

“I know the anxiety firsthand that people feel because you worry about your customers, whether or not they’re going to come back. You worry about how you’re going to pay your bills. And we’ve tried providing relief for that,” Karbassi said. “The goal of the Save Our Small Businesses Act is to provide relief and take responsibility so we can help our businesses stay afloat.”

“We have their back and we’re going to try to do whatever we can from our local power to be able to support.” — Fresno City Councilmember Esmeralda Soria

The city council approved $750,000 for the program on March 25. Twenty percent of the funds ($150,000) will go toward businesses with five or fewer employees.

“We have their back and we’re going to try to do whatever we can from our local power to be able to support,” Soria said.

Access Plus Capital will administer the loans.

Apply for the loan by clicking here or call 559 263-1360 for help.

Information on the Fresno small business loan program (GV Wire/David Taub)

SBA Loans Create ‘Big Response’ for Fresno Bank

“We had a very, very big response.”Steve Miller, Fresno First Bank

Steve Miller, president and CEO of Fresno First Bank, said his bank is participating in two loan programs through the federal Small Business Administration.

In one program, the SBA will make six months of principal and interest payments on existing SBA loans, and loans made through June.

“That’s a really powerful part of the program and will provide instant payment relief to a lot of small businesses,” Miller said. “I actually think it’s a really clever idea they came up with.”

Fresno First Bank is also participating in the Payment Protection Program, which provides forgivable loans to businesses — 500 employees or fewer — to use to keep or hire back displaced workers.

The loan could be for as much as two-and-half-times a normal monthly payroll. Interest rates would be 1%, with payments deferred for six months.

Miller said Fresno First Bank received great interest when the Payment Protection Program went online last Friday.

“We had a very, very big response,” Miller said. He did not provide specifics of the number of applicants or amount his bank will loan through the program.

The response was so big, Miller said they accepted applications only from the bank’s current customers.

Major banks like Wells Fargo and Citibank said they were limiting applications as well.

The bank is still awaiting guidance on the exact details for both programs such as when funds will be available.

Fresno Loan FAQ

Who is eligible to apply?

— Businesses that are located in the city of Fresno, with a valid city business license and 25 or fewer employees. Businesses in county islands, Clovis, or any other county community are not eligible.

How much is available?

— $750,000 will come from city funds. Twenty percent of the funds ($150,000) will go to businesses of five or fewer employees. The city is seeking a matching program from the private sector. The money will be divided among the seven council districts, with each district receiving $107,142.86 for loans.

How much will the city lend?

— $5,000 for businesses of 1-5 employees; $10,000 for businesses with 6-25 employees.

How do you apply? What is the deadline?

— Apply through Access Plus Capital at this link. The deadline is 11:59 p.m. on Sunday, April 12.

What if there are more applications than money available?

— The city will hold a random drawing.

How quickly will businesses receive the money?

— Businesses will be notified on April 17, with the disbursement of funds by April 20 or 21.

Does the business have to be impacted by COVID-19?

— Yes. Businesses that closed or reduced hours because of the city’s emergency order are eligible if they “demonstrate a loss of 25% or more of revenue due to COVID-19.”

What are the terms of the loan?

— It will be a 0% interest loan, requiring the business owner to offer a personal guarantee. The city will forgive the loan after one year if the business remains in continuous operation. If not, the business owner must pay it back.

Does the business have to be in good standing?

— Yes. Businesses “must not have any unpaid judgments or tax liens,” and have a valid business license for one year prior to March 4, 2020 (the date Gov. Gavin Newsom declared a statewide COVID-19 emergency) and operate for one year prior to March 4 as well.

Where is the money coming from?

— Of the $750,000, $500,000 comes from funding reserved for a senior center, and $250,000 comes from the city attorney’s budget.

Are there any businesses not eligible?

Yes. According to the city’s website, lending/mortgage establishments, gambling establishments, not-for-profit organizations, adult entertainment locations, pyramid establishments, and religious organizations are not eligible for loans.

 

 

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