Hamilton County to roll out forgivable loan program for small businesses

Program to launch in coming weeks
Posted at 1:03 PM, May 08, 2020
and last updated 2020-05-08 21:15:53-04

HAMILTON COUNTY, Ohio — Small businesses in the county that did not already receive federal funding will soon be able to apply for a forgivable loan of $10,000, Commissioner Denise Driehaus said.

The loans, made possible by using $5 million in federal CARES Act funding, will be awarded to businesses who did not receive money through the Paycheck Protection Program (PPP).

“We are trying to help those small businesses that did not get federal assistance. It’s not that they didn’t necessarily qualify for the PPP; they just didn’t get it. The money ran out before they could get assistance,” Driehaus said.

PPP is part of the CARES Act, a $2.2-trillion stimulus bill aimed at supporting the economy through the COVID-19 pandemic. The $350 billion SBA loan program ran out of money in 14 days, leaving more than 700,000 loan applications unfinished.

Holly Christmann, assistant county administrator, said the forgivable loans can be used for rent, utilities, inventory, payroll, license renewals or capital improvement to comply with reopening guidelines.

The loan will be forgiven if the business can retain or create at least one full-time job within three months after receiving the funds, Christmann said.

To be eligible businesses must:

  • Have not received dollars via PPP
  • Have less than $1 million in gross revenue
  • Submit documentation showing the business has had a revenue impact of about 50% due to the COVID-19 pandemic

Christmann said these guidelines are preliminary; the program is slated to be up and running in a couple of weeks.

Officials are anticipating an overwhelming response to the program, Christmann said.

“It’s a reality to what we are seeing throughout the country in programs similar to this one,” Christmann said. “That is a concern; however, that concern should not freeze us from taking action and trying to be a strong partner with our business community …”

The program could be expanded depending on the demand, Driehaus said.

“We are ready to increase that dollar amount if we find that the need is greater than $5 million … we are not restricted by the federal government as to how much we spend in that space,” Driehaus said.