Dillon launches small business loan program to provide aid during shutdown | SummitDaily.com

Dillon launches small business loan program to provide aid during shutdown

The welcome sign along U.S. Highway 6 at the entrance to the town of Dillon is pictured in mid-April. The town has announced that it will provide $250,000 in funding to help keep small businesses afloat during the coronavirus shutdown.
Courtesy Elaine Collins

DILLON — Help is on the way for small-business owners in Dillon.

The Dillon Town Council approved a resolution to establish a new small business loan program during a virtual meeting Tuesday night, hoping to provide some financial relief for small businesses in town suffering from the statewide COVID-19 shutdown.

“We’re asking businesses to apply by the end of the month and trying to get a quick turnaround to get this money out to local businesses to help them ride out the storm,” Dillon Town Manager Nathan Johnson said. “We’re hoping as some of these restrictions start to alleviate, we can get back to some sense of normalcy. We don’t know what exactly that will look like. It seems like it changes daily, but if we all work together, we can get through this.”

The town funneled $250,000 from its Sewer Enterprise Fund to finance the program, and eligible businesses will be able to get loans worth up to $10,000. To be considered for loans, businesses must be independently owned, have fewer than 50 full-time employees, be up to date on all permits and be located in town, among other criteria.

Businesses will be required to pay back the loan within three years with a 1% interest rate, though the loans could be forgiven if businesses are able to maintain staffing levels based on a baseline of March 25.

“The concern is that as we open up, some of these establishments — whether its retail, restaurants, general business — might not have the workforce there to bring back on,” Johnson said. “Those people may have had to go down to the Front Range or elsewhere to find employment. … What we’re trying to do is incentivize businesses to maintain employees, so they can grow off that retention.”

Businesses must apply for the program by April 30, and the town is expecting checks to start going out soon after in early May. Dillon’s Marketing and Communications Director Kerstin Anderson said the town didn’t want to “tie businesses hands,” so they will be able to spend the funds however they see fit to successfully stay afloat until restrictions are eased.

And while it remains to be seen what kind of impact the loan program will ultimately have for business owners, officials believe it will serve as a helpful supplement to other efforts to support local businesses, such as the town’s “To Go Jams” series highlighting a different Dillon restaurant each week.

“We want to make sure we’re coming out of this maintaining a strong base for our working community so that we still have a thriving, sustainable community at the back end of this,” Anderson said. “And we’re trying to provide support now for businesses that are desperately needing it. … We’re just trying to think out of the box and look for ways — big and small — we can support our community.”

Many small businesses in Dillon, like The Argentos Empanadas pictured April 24, remain closed because of COVID-19.
Liz Copan / ecopan@summitdaily.com

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