The fund was approved by an emergency ordinance of Aiken City Council on March 23, 2020, and in seven days the city was contacted by more than 200 local businesses, already offering one-on-one support and advice sessions to 83.
Aiken, with a population of 30,000, was budgeting funds to attract new businesses when the emergence of the COVID-19 pandemic dramatically changed the city’s priorities.
“Here we were developing a plan to aggressively seek out new residents and new businesses in our community,” said Aiken Mayor Rick N. Osbon. “Overnight, the earth shifted beneath our feet, and it became clear that lending a helping hand to our existing businesses and doing all we could to keep them going through this crisis was clearly the right thing to do. ”
Tim O’Brian, the director of economic development of Aiken, says the program is a lifeline for business owners looking for help, both in terms of available funding and the opportunity for a sounding board that allows them to respond as best they can. to the ever-changing economic conditions they face. Aiken and around the nation.
“Unusually for the government,” O’Briant said, “we acted very quickly and reached out to community partners to ask if they wanted to help local businesses.”
the Aiken City, local community development organization The Aiken Corporation, Security Federal Bank and the Aiken The Chamber of Commerce, all locally run organisations, has agreed to participate in providing loan guarantees to help those in need.
The loan program is available to fund loans of up to $10,000 for eligible businesses.
To be eligible, potential applicants must meet certain criteria:
- Must be a business with a physical location within company boundaries Aiken City
- Must employ 25 full-time equivalent employees or less
- Must hold a Aiken City business license in good standing
- Must be able to demonstrate the impact related to COVID-19 on the business operations incurred March 1, 2020 and then
the Aiken City issues the loans with Security Federal Bank as the underwriting and loan servicing partner. The loans will be deferred for six months with an interest rate of 2%. The bank offers its expertise for free as a service to the community and the interest paid will be returned to the lending pool for the use of others.
In addition to applying for the loan, area business owners can receive business advice from O’Briant to learn about federal programs through the Small Business Administration. The city is also working with the local SCORE chapter to mentor entrepreneurs and small businesses as they process local and federal loan applications.
The way the community of Aiken comes together during this time of uncertainty serves as a beacon of light and hope for others.
Communities across Caroline from the south, North Carolina and Georgia contacted O’Briant and expressed interest in creating a similar platform to help their small businesses.
MEDIA CONTACT: Cory Basket, [email protected]
THE SOURCE City of Aiken, South Carolina