Aiken small business owners take advantage of city’s COVID-19 relief loan programs



Officials in the city of Aiken are doing what they can to help local small business owners during the COVID-19 outbreak. The board approved the COVID-19 Small Business Recovery Revolving Loan Fund at Monday’s board meeting.

The fund provides eligible small business owners with loans of up to $ 10,000 with an interest rate of 2%, deferred for six months for payment and interest.

To be eligible, you must have a business license in good standing with the City of Aiken, have a physical location for your business, and employ less than 25 full-time employees. Companies must also be able to demonstrate an impact related to COVID-19 on business operations initiated after March 1, 2020.

Loans under $ 5,000 will have a term of 12 months, loans over $ 5,000 will have a term of 24 months.

The city has partnered with the Security Federal Bank, which guarantees $ 250,000 of the $ 1 million initial fund. Half of the loans will be guaranteed by the city of Aiken, the remainder being shared between Aiken Corporation and the Aiken Chamber of Commerce.

Applicants must meet credit and underwriting requirements, and final loan decisions will be made only by Aiken City Manager, Stuart Bedenbaugh or his representative (s).

“It’s just about offering a lifeline to our small businesses that are taking it on the chin right now,” said Tim O’Briant, Director of Economic Development for the Town of Aiken.

O’Briant has temporarily moved into the Aiken Downtown Development Association office at The Alley. He and his team are busy processing inquiries and making appointments with interested small business owners. There was a large stack of nominations at lunchtime on Tuesday, less than 24 hours after the package was approved.

Loans aren’t just for downtown businesses.

Rick Cram, owner of Progressive Show Jumping since 1987, was in the office Tuesday to fill out an application. His business operates out of the Highfields Event Center.

“It was short and pleasant,” he said of the application process. “It’s easy, it’s fast.
It is a 2% signature loan. If you have an urgent need to pay your bills, keep the electricity on and keep your employees, the ones who really depend on you, who have families of their own, this is a quick fix, ”Cram added.

Lionel Smith Ltd., one of Aiken’s oldest small businesses, is also among the candidates.

“The town of Aiken doesn’t just include downtown,” said Van Smith, owner of Lionel Smith Ltd. “So they’re helping everyone in Aiken town. If you pay municipal taxes and your business license is up to date, then you are eligible, ”Smith said.

O’Briant asks applicants use this link to schedule an appointment, or you can call (803) -642-7654.

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