Businesses struggling to get through this difficult year are encouraged to contact their local community futures development corporation for help.
The CFDCs have received a pot of new money through the federal Regional Relief and Recovery Fund (RRRF), allowing them to offer more interest-free loans to businesses affected by the pandemic.
“I do appreciate that people are frightened by debt, but businesses should contact us, and understand this isn’t a conventional loan, this is a relief measure,” said Tom Russell, executive director of Thousand Islands CFDC.
The program offers business loans of up to $40,000, of which 25 per cent might be forgiven if repayment is made by Dec. 31, 2022. Further, these loans are interest-free until 2025.
“Five years is a long time, and we will do everything in our power to make it as easy as we can for those businesses,” said Russell.
“We are here to help businesses that have had their revenues adversely affected by the COVID-19 pandemic,” said Heather Lawless, executive director of the Grenville CFDC.
Since its launch earlier this year, the RRRF has helped more than 1,000 businesses keep their employees and cover operating costs. In this area, the Grenville CFDC in Prescott and 1000 Islands CDC in Brockville have helped 58 businesses hang on to 379 employees.
“The businesses, workers and organizations in Southern Ontario’s rural communities are a significant part of our region’s economic strength. We know they have faced challenges as a result of the pandemic and we are providing support to keep them vital,” said Kate Young, parliamentary secretary to the minister of economic development, in a release.
According to the CFDCs that administer the program, there are no onerous loan security requirements and the program is open to businesses that have already received funding, although on the second round businesses might not be eligible for the loan forgiveness feature of the program.
“We will look at each case individually and try to make it work for them,” said Russell.
In total, an additional $1.96 million is being invested by the federal government to complement the $2.1 million that was released earlier this year, for a total of $4.1 million in COVID-19 relief.