Local businesses taking advantage of Small Business Emergency Relief Fund
Approved by the Merrill Common Council on Tuesday, April 21, the city’s Small Business Emergency Relief Fund has seen a large number of area businesses recently apply and receive grants and loans, to help pay their bills.
As reported in the April 30 edition of the Foto News, the Small Businesses Emergency Relief Fund is a federally funded program, allowing local small businesses to apply for a $1,500 grant and a $1,500 loan, to help pay for their rent, mortgage and utilities.
According to City Administrator Dave Johnson, business must meet the following criteria to receive funds from this program:
•Business must have 25 or less employees
•Business must not be a franchise
•Business must be closed or have a significant part of their business affected by the COVID-19 closure
Applications to receive such grants or loans can be found on the City of Merrill website at http:// www.ci.merrill.wi.us. All applications must be either emailed to city hall, dropped off at the city hall drop box or given to the business’s district alderman. No one may enter Merrill City Hall at this time, as it is closed to the public due to COVID-19.
In an interview with the Merrill Foto News on Thursday, April 30, Johnson went into more depth on the program.
”Businesses may apply for both a grant and a loan,” explained Johnson. “These funds are meant to help those businesses in need pay their rent, mortgage and utilities and may not be used to replace revenue. I also want to assure the community that this program will not cost them anything, this will be completely funded by defederalized community block grants. There is no local tax dollars being used for this.”
Johnson mentioned that there is no deadline to apply.
“As of right now there is no deadline for businesses to apply,” said Johnson. “We are going to keep this program going until this situation is over, or until we run out of funds. As of right now (April 29), we have granted about 60 business with funds and we are nearing the $100,000 mark, out of the $200,000 available.”
Johnson also talked about the importance of keeping local businesses afloat in this time of need.
“This program is very important to these small businesses,” Johnson continued. “A lot of them are struggling in these times and need help to keep their heads above water. Retaining the local businesses we have is just as important as bringing in new businesses.”
Newly elected Common Council President and District 1 Alderman Paul Russell, piggybacked off of what Johnson had to say, stating the council’s goal is to keep all small businesses open.
“Our main goal right now is to support all small businesses in this time of need,” said Russell. “Once all of these closures and restrictions pass, we would like all of our local small businesses to have the ability to reopen.”
Russell also pointed to the new council’s ability to work as a unit, as a big reason this program was approved.
“I’ve been very impressed with how well this new council is working together already,” Russell explained. “When it comes to helping out our community and businesses, this council seems to be on the same page. Most of the things we are voting on are unanimous and that shows the team work that is going on. This is only the beginning for what this council wants to do for the community. We aren’t out of the woods yet, but there is more good news on the horizon.”