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Columbus Directs $5.5 Million In Federal Coronavirus Relief To Small Businesses

A man cleans the sidewalk in front of the Grandview Theater on May 14, 2020.
David Holm
A man cleans the sidewalk in front of the Grandview Theater on May 14, 2020.

Columbus will use $5.5 million of its federal CARES Act funding for grants and loans to local small businesses.

Two of the program's three parts are grants. One grant provides up to $10,000 to sustain a business and keep jobs, and the other offers up to $5,000 for protective equipment.

Columbus City Council President Shannon Hardin says opening safely has been challenging for some businesses.

“That has come with a cost in itself, in making sure that their environments are as safe as possible,” Hardin says. “And we want to be a partner and take away any undue financial stress that opening up, in itself, may have caused.”

The third fund, explains Columbus development director Michael Stevens, is what they term a "pivot loan."

“The goal is to maintain existing business operations, while retaining existing jobs, create new jobs, and make capital investments due to unexpected market growth,” Stevens says. “Applicants are eligible to receive a loan up to $20,000.”

Stevens also noted many small businesses found it difficult to gain access to funding under the Paycheck Protection Program, administered by the federal Small Business Administration. He stressed city leaders’ intention to direct support to small businesses that need funding.

“We are looking small neighborhood community-level businesses, barbershops, hair salons, other services that unfortunately had to shut down and lost revenue that they will never be able to make up, so we want to make sure that hose individuals that have been impacted can benefit,” Stevens says.

Businesses can obtain funds from all three programs. JP Morgan Chase is adding $250,000 to help roll out the online application and give small business owners technical support.