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Council hears update on COVID loan program

No business closures, but owners report reduced revenues

Webster City Community Vitality Director Lindsay Henderson gave the City Council an update on the COVID-19 forgivable loan program implemented last May to help area businesses impacted by the pandemic.

The city awarded 47 loans either in the amount of $2500 or $5000, totaling $150,000, to help the businesses with rent, mortgages, payroll and other related charges.

Henderson said a survey was sent to the businesses who received loans to see how they are currently faring. She did not call out any individual business, but said overall, she’s seeing many of the businesses continuing to report declining revenues.

“I don’t know of any businesses that received a loan that has actually closed due to COVID,” Henderson said. “So that’s good news.”

In comparing the second quarter to the same three months last year, there are more of them that are reporting lower revenues.

“As opposed to the first quarter, there were some that were about the same to the period the year before and some that reported a bump in revenue,” she said.

Henderson said that the initial boost in sales may have been partially due to area residents’ enthusiasm to purchase items locally.

“Maybe some of that has started to decline,” she said, noting that the initial stimulus payment may have added in those local sales. “Again, it’s good that we’ve not lost any businesses, but we’re seeing a higher percentage showing a decline in revenue and a lower status even compared to the first quarter reporting,” she said.

Henderson said that the City Council had approved up to $250,000 but ended up loaning $150,000. She said she had not received any requests for additional support.

“Thankfully, we’re seeing (COVID) numbers decline with the application of safety measures such as wearing masks,” she said. She added that fall and winter tend to be slower months for many businesses.

“I would encourage local people to continue to support our local businesses as much as you can,” she said.

“Several of the businesses said this loan program has made the difference for them,” Henderson said.

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