Ontario City Hall

This photo shows the Ontario City Hall.

ONTARIO — The City of Ontario has initiated a new program, through the Business Loan Fund, that is making micro-loans available to local area small businesses. In light of the pandemic caused by the novel coronavirus COVID-19, businesses have been needing to take new approaches to the way things have normally been done.

As such, a recently proposed micro-loan initiative was an idea that was suggested by Ontario City Councilor Michael Braden. Ontario City Manager Adam Brown explained this further in an email on Monday morning.

“I have to tell you though, because the Business Loan Fund came up with the micro-loan program, we became eligible for this new program announced by the state just last week. Only active local programs are eligible to apply by the end of today. We are only eligible because they got this set up in perfect time. I didn’t have anything to do with it, it was Michael Braden’s idea and the committee recommended it to the council. Staff took it to council and they passed it. The last BLF (Business Loan Fund) meeting was to amend this program to conform to the requirements of the state match grant,” said Brown.

The Council vote on this initiative was unanimous at the May 7 City Council work session.

The local micro-loan program may also be eligible for additional funds as Brown indicated.

Business Oregon, an Oregon state agency, that helps “Oregon business locate, grow, export & expand” according to its website, has announced a program that would supplement existing local loan programs. A statement from the organization explains further.

“The Oregon Legislature, in partnership with the Governor, allocated $5 million from the State General Fund, which will be combined with $5 million redirected from existing programs at the Oregon Business Development Department (Business Oregon), for the purpose of providing financial assistance to small businesses adversely affected by economic conditions associated with the COVID-19 pandemic that have not received federal emergency assistance under the federal CARES Act or other federal program for emergency pandemic funding,” the statement opens.

Ontario Finance Director, Kari Ott, stated what the City is planning in regard to applying for these supplemental funds.

“We are applying for a matching grant program from Business Oregon. Our loan program set up can be used as the match for these grants for small businesses. The BLF committee meeting last week made a few changes to the loan program in order to align with the state grant program. Basically it narrowed down that the businesses must have 25 employees or less, and must not have received CARES Act, PPP or SBA EIDL assistance as of the date of application,” said Ott.

She went on to say that maximum amount of loans to be disbursed was changed to $200,000 and that these amounts being loaned will match grants required by the state.

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