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Cleveland Awards COVID-19 Loans To 113 Small Businesses

Angela Sharpley opened Pipe’N Hot Grill in late January, only to see the coronavirus pandemic threaten to dry up her business two months later.

This week, her seafood restaurant in Cleveland’s GlenVillage development was among 113 local businesses to win a total of $1.1 million in emergency pandemic loans from City Hall. Each loan is for as much as $10,000, and no payments are due until 2021.

“We were off to a really good start. Our sales are very high and the community has truly received us very well,” Sharpley said. “To experience the pandemic, it’s a very scary thing for us as entrepreneurs.”

With $10,000, Pipe’N Hot Grill can pay off old bills, improve delivery service and start hiring again, she said. Sharpley is getting ready to reopen for dine-in service, with limited seating, this week.

Restaurants, bars and hair salons—among the companies affected the longest by Ohio’s COVID-19 restrictions—feature prominently in the list of Cleveland loan recipients.

Many have been waiting weeks for this news, and the cash infusion. The city first opened applications in early April, and at least 275 businesses had applied as of last week.

“Our local economy and the well-being of our neighborhoods relies on the success of its small businesses,” Cleveland Mayor Frank Jackson said in a written statement released by his office. “These loans are not only an investment in the small business recipients but in our communities as well.”

Applicants who missed out on the first round of loans could receive money later, once the city accesses federal funding, according to a news release.

Cleveland received about $19.4 million from federal block grant programs as part of the CARES Act. The city is using that money to support programs for rental assistance, business aid and basic needs.

Applications for larger loan programs, offering Cleveland businesses up to $20,000 and $100,000, will be available starting May 27.

Meanwhile, local governments around Northeast Ohio are piecing together funds to keep business districts alive.

Cuyahoga County has awarded grants to more than 300 businesses and just finished taking applications for a second round of assistance. In all, the county has pledged $6 million from a variety of sources to local companies.

Summit County awarded $1.5 million in grants this month. The county is accepting applications until noon Thursday on a second round of assistance supported by $5 million in CARES Act funds.  

The money will come in handy for businesses that are also seeking federal aid like the Paycheck Protection Program.

Sharpley applied for a U.S. Small Business Administration economic injury disaster loan, but hasn’t heard back yet, she said. Smaller businesses like Pipe’N Hot Grill probably need even more help during the pandemic than better-positioned larger companies do, she said.

“We don’t have that big money to fall back on or any of that, we just started,” Sharpley said. “Like, we just opened.”


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