Business Loans Help Warren Businesses Get Set to Reopen

WARREN, Ohio – The city of Warren launched a new loan program Monday to help businesses with expenses related to the coronavirus pandemic. 

The city is accepting applications for COVID-19 Business Support Loans to help businesses with the additional expenses of reopening or making necessary modifications to operate during the pandemic.

Warren will consider setting aside about $300,000 of the $702,138 in Community Development Block Grant funds it received through the Coronavirus Aid, Relief and Economic Security Act of 2020, or Cares Act, for the program, Mike Keys, Warren community development director, said during a phone interview.

The program will offer deferred 0% loans of up to $5,000 to qualifying businesses that will be forgiven after a defined period once the business has reopened and/or reached certain milestones set by the city, according to a news release issued Monday. The funds can be used for such items as restocking inventory, retrofitting for social distancing and employee protection, and personal protection equipment for employees.  

Awareness of the need for such a program grew out of weekly conference calls taking place among local economic development organizations during the pandemic, Keys said. 

That need was also made apparent during conversations Keys had with business owners, he said. In addition, the city has contracted with Economic Action Group to contact local businesses to see what their needs are and to inform them of assistance that might be available to them.   

“Restaurants are going to have to restock. The may need to put up some Plexiglas partitions. For small businesses, that can be a little bit of a burden,” he said.

“We realize the hardships that businesses and their employees are facing,” Mayor Doug Franklin said in the news release. “Our goal is to help ease the burden to our business community as we work together to recover from the devastation caused by this virus.”

To qualify for the programs, businesses must be located in the city; have been open in 2019; be current on local, state and federal taxes as well as city utilities and other fees; and meet basic underwriting parameters, Keys said.    

Keys says he was unsure what demand for the program would be, but that the city potentially could supplement the loan fund from other city funding sources or a potential second federal infusion from the U.S. Department of Housing and Urban Development. “Depending on the demand, it may be something that we take some of our traditional block grant money and fund,” he said. 

For more information or to request an application, interested business owners can contact Anthony Iannucci, executive director of Warren Redevelopment and Planning Corp., at info@wrapcorp.org or Keys at mkeys@warren.org

Copyright 2021 The Business Journal, Youngstown, Ohio.