The federal government has tossed a second lifeline to small businesses in Norfolk County that are struggling with pandemic disruptions.
Shortly after the COVID-19 pandemic was declared in March, the federal government’s Regional Relief and Recovery Fund provided $990,000 to Venture Norfolk to disperse to small, viable businesses that did not qualify for support loans from private financial institutions.
Venture Norfolk’s 10-member board of directors parcelled that out as 34 loans over five weeks. Venture Norfolk received a second infusion of $1 million for the same purpose at the end of November.
“The window is open now and will remain open until we lend out all the money,” Venture Norfolk general manager Kristine Carey said on Dec. 4. “Once that is done, the window closes. Whether there is more to come after that we have no idea.”
Carey said this round of support is earmarked for “sole-proprietor” small businesses that can demonstrate viability if not profitability. Examples include retail shops, restaurants, corner stores, small manufacturing and the like.
Qualifying businesses must be incorporated provincially or owned by a Canadian citizen, employ from one to 499 full-time employees, and must demonstrate funding pressure arising from fixed operating costs at a time of economic shutdown. Businesses must also have applied for other federal emergency credit measures that have been available.
Interest-free loans to a maximum of $40,000 are available. As an incentive, up to 25 per cent of these loans are forgivable if paid back by March 31, 2023.
Carey said the Venture Norfolk board understands that – at times like this – time is of the essence. The turnaround time for applications is about two weeks maximum, she said. Because the local board is comprised of individuals with knowledge of the local area and business principles, Carey said applicants “get a very fair shake.”
Those wishing to learn more are asked to visit Venture Norfolk’s website at https://www.venturenorfolk.ca/regional-relief-and-recovery-fund/ Applications for this round of funding are available at this location as well.