Aurora to loan $1.4 million to small businesses to survive pandemic
Small businesses in Aurora suffering due to the COVID-19 pandemic may get forgivable loans of up to $25,000 under a program the city council approved Tuesday.
The Standing Together With Aurora Businesses Local Emergency Fund will offer a total of $1.4 million. The money will come largely from federal Community Development Block Grants the city was going to use for other purposes, including repaving residential streets and a playground project at Hope Wall School.
Officials said the roadwork will be covered instead by an increase in the motor fuel sales tax.
They are looking elsewhere in the budget for the contribution to the playground at the school for students with disabilities.
The loans can be used for rent, payroll, utilities or other expenses related to maintaining or expanding operations.
"Their success is our success," Mayor Richard Irvin said.
"We get our revenue from their success."
Businesses with five or fewer employees (including the owner) are eligible for up to $15,000.
Businesses with six to 50 employees can receive $25,000.
A portion of the loan would be forgiven for each month the recipient stays in business. Details were not available about interest rates or length of loans, although Chief Financial Officer Marty Lyons gave an example of a $12,000 loan being forgiven at $1,000 a month.
If a business closes before the loan is repaid, the Housing and Urban Development Department would write off the loan, and the city would not be responsible.
Recipients must be in Aurora and in business for at least three months. Up to half the money will be reserved for businesses in the central part of the city, roughly from Illinois to Sherman avenues and Route 31 to Hill Street. The area is designated as economically disadvantaged by HUD.
Applications will be taken May 1 to 15 by Invest Aurora, the city's not-for-profit development corporation.
Invest Aurora will evaluate the applications, including loss of revenue and how the loan would benefit the city.
Worthy applications will be entered in a lottery and the loans will be given until the money runs out. Businesses will be notified June 1.
On Friday, the Aurora Regional Chamber of Commerce will hold webinars to explain the program.
An English-language webinar is at 1 p.m. and a Spanish-language one is at 5 p.m. To register, visit auroraregionalchamber-covid-19.weebly.com/webinars.html.
Businesses needing help completing the application in Spanish also may call (331) 442-1617.