Essex County businesses can soon apply for federal COVID-19 relief loans
LAKE GEORGE — Businesses throughout the region hurt by the coronavirus pandemic will soon be able to apply for a low-interest loan of up to $150,000 through the Lake Champlain-Lake George Regional Planning Board.
The loans are made possible through $3.2 million in federal funding released Thursday by the U.S. Department of Commerce and will be available to businesses in Warren, Washington, Essex, Hamilton, Jefferson, Lewis, Clinton and St. Lawrence counties.
“This is a new revolving loan fund specifically for COVID-19 recovery resiliency,” said Beth Gilles, director of the Regional Planning Board.
The new funding came through a stimulus bill passed in March but was announced during a press event on Thursday in the parking lot of the High Peaks Distillery in Lake George.
Officials from the Department of Commerce were in attendance, as were local officials, including Rep. Elise Stefanik, R-Schuylerville, and Assemblyman Dan Stec, R-Queensbury.
“This funding is flexible and it is just a big win for our entire North Country region,” said Stefanik, who voted in favor of the $2.2 trillion CARES Act, which included the funding.
Stefanik said the program is critical for small businesses, but said more relief will be needed later.
She is sponsoring a bill that would provide $500 billion in relief to state and local governments and supports another round of personal stimulus funding.
Gilles said businesses can borrow money for anything COVID-related, including paying mortgages and utilities, covering payroll expenses, buying equipment and making facility upgrades such as installing a new HVAC system to improve filtration.
Parameters for the program still need to be approved by the Department of Commerce, but Gilles said she’s hoping the loans will come with a 1.9% interest rate over a seven-year period. She expects the parameters to be approved in the next month.
Gilles said she believes the funds will be depleted fast.
“Our loan committee thinks that $3 million is going to go out the door pretty quickly,” she said.
Businesses throughout the region have been hit hard by the pandemic.
Most were forced to close their doors for more than two months, and many that have reopened have done so at a reduced capacity.
Funding for the loan program is part of a $1.5 billion package approved through the CARES Act to help small businesses deal with the fallout of the pandemic.
New York received $22.8 million in funding under the package, which will be disbursed through five separate planning boards across the state.
“These investments will provide small businesses in New York … with the necessary capital to rebound from the coronavirus pandemic and in turn create a stronger and more resilient economy for the future,” said Anthony Foti, the intergovernmental affairs director for the Department of Commerce.
Stefanik said the loan program is an example of tax dollars being put to good use.
“This is an example of your hard-earned tax dollars being reinvested in our community to make sure that we can recover stronger and safer and healthier than ever before,” she said.