Recognizing the enormous financial impact on local businesses resulting from drastic operational changes and closures due to the COVID-19 containment and social isolation measures, on March 20 Columbia City Council unanimously passed A Resilient Columbia: Economic Sustainability Plan. The plan provides forgivable loans offering short-term financial relief to small businesses, located within the corporate limits of Columbia, impacted by a loss of revenue because of COVID-19 containment and safety efforts.
As of April 21, 388 local businesses have submitted completed applications. The City of Columbia continues to review and award the Resilient Columbia Sustainability Plan loans, and currently 220 have been awarded – totaling $999,750 of revenue assistance. Currently, another 103 applications have been reviewed with funding recommended for them, and 31 applications are still in the review process. Because of the success of the program, this afternoon Columbia City Council unanimously added an additional $400,000 in funding for loans to local businesses.
“The crux of the Resilient Columbia program is making sure our small businesses have the funds to survive and get through this storm,” said City Council member Edward H. McDowell. Jr., who also serves as Chair of the Administrative Policy Committee. “I am hearing from the business owners throughout District 2 they are receiving their checks, which are vital in helping them meet their daily expenses. The Resilient Columbia plan is part of the overwhelming vision of City Council to make sure our small businesses are relevant, and that now more than ever our leadership efforts will prove to help them.”
To date, the forgivable loans, with an average amount of $4,500, have reached:
• 15.5% (34) restaurants
• 13.6% (30) salons/barber shops
• 11.4% (25) professional services
• 10.9% (24) retail
• 2.7% (6) construction companies
Other types of businesses awarded the sustainability loans are cleaning services, catering firms, daycares, event rentals, gyms, consulting agencies, photography studios & technology companies.
The awarded companies have been in business:
• 1-2 years – 15.5% (34)
• 3-5 years – 20.5% (45)
• 6-10 years – 18.6% (41)
• More than 10 years – 45.5% (100)
• N/A & N/A Veterans – 43.6% (96)
• Minority & Minority Veterans – 37.7% (83)
• Non-minority women – 18.6% (41)
From business owners who have received Resilient Columbia Economic Sustainability loans:
• “Good morning and thank you, Mayor and City Council so much for looking out for the small businesses in Columbia. It will make a huge difference for us and other small businesses throughout the city.”
• “Thank you. These funds have helped us tremendously during this uncertain time, and we are truly grateful for the financial support, which was much needed.”
• “I am very grateful to the City of Columbia. I feel the support and especially in these very challenging times. Thank you for your help.”
This Resilient Columbia: Economic Sustainability Plan has been a collaborative effort between Columbia City Council and the Offices of Business Opportunities, Economic Development, and Finance. Staff in all departments are working together to make sure the funds are distributed to our small businesses quickly in an effort to provide them needed economic relief during this enormous public health crisis.