The City of Columbia and Office of Business Opportunities is pleased to announce the tremendous amount of applications submitted for the Small Business Stabilization Forgivable (SBSF) Loan Program. To date, over 600 applications have been submitted, 170 of those were completed in their entirety.
“Hundreds of small businesses across Columbia responded immediately to our Small Business Stabilization Forgivable Loan program, which is a strong indication of how impacted our business community has been due to the COVID-19 isolation measures,” said Mayor Steve Benjamin. “As much as we want to keep our Columbia citizens and neighborhoods healthy and safe from the spread of the virus, we also want to keep our business community safe from permanent financial harm and make sure as many as possible will return to serve as our economic generators once the current health crisis is over. We have already started approval of these stabilization loans and are hearing from applicants how much the funds will help meet their ongoing needs”.
The Office of Business Opportunities has notified approximately 52 business owners who have been selected for the loan program based on meeting the guidelines for the SBSF program, current workforce, and documented decreases in revenue since the crisis. The findings identified in the results of the recent City of Columbia’s Survey of Small Businesses are also used during the review process. Additional notifications will be made daily until funds have been completely disbursed.
The SBSF Loan Program is intended to provide small businesses with immediate assistance that are struggling to access capital and keep their doors open due to the impact of COVID-19. City Council discussed funding the SBSF program in Council Session on Friday, March 20th and were presented the program guidelines during Council Session on March 26th. Council voted unanimously to fund the $1M SBSF Loan Program.
“Columbia City Council has contributed a lot of time making sure we don’t experience a collapse of our city’s economic generators,” said City Council member Sam Davis, who also serves as Chair of the Economic & Community Development Committee. “We stand by and are committed to our small business community, as it is evident they are critical to the long term success of our Capital City. They are the very lifeblood of our communities and our economy”.
“I am extremely excited about our ability to help our citizens and business owners during this time of crisis. Our City staff have done a phenomenal job creating the program guidelines and providing assistance to the public in such an efficient manner”, said City Manager Teresa Wilson.
“The number of applications received to date reinforce how small businesses are facing urgent cash flow challenges and need immediate support to stabilize their finances, support their workforces, and be in a position to reopen after this crisis is over. These zero interest forgivable loans will provide some relief until sources of other public and private financing are available.”, said Melissa Lindler, Office of Business Opportunities Director.
The program will remain open for applications until all funds have been committed. It is believed funds will be exhausted within a short period for approved applications, so small businesses located in the City limits meeting the criteria of the program are encouraged to apply quickly. The program guidelines and application, along with other information targeted at supporting small businesses can be viewed at the City of Columbia website here: https://www.columbiasc.gov/obo.
If a business is not equipped to complete the application online, they are encouraged to send an email to [email protected] for guidance. Questions regarding the program can also be directed to [email protected]