READING, Pa. - Berks County is providing help to small businesses that are struggling to pay their bills and maintain payroll during the coronavirus shutdown.
The county commissioners have launched the Small Business Restart Loan Program.
Businesses can apply for five-year interest-free loans of $2,500 to $10,000, with no payments due in the first two years.
"We've seen how our local small businesses have been impacted during the shutdown," said Commissioner Michael Rivera, who is leading the effort. "We want to help sustain their operations during this time and offer assistance to small businesses across Berks County as they make the necessary preparations to reopen their doors."
To be eligible for the loan program, businesses must meet the following requirements:
- Must be a privately held, for-profit business that has been established for at least one year
- Located in Berks County and outside of Reading
- Employ 2-8 full-time equivalent employees
- Show financial hardship of injury caused by the COVID-19 pandemic
- Demonstrates an annual gross revenue of $500,000 or less
- Rehire, retain, or create a minimum of one job, which is available to or held by LMI persons
- Agree to public health and safety reopening plan
- Must not have already received federal funds for the same purpose
- Must meet additional agreements as stated within the SBRL program guidelines
Officials said business owners can apply beginning June 15 on the Neighborhood Housing Services of Greater Berks website.
Businesses that receive a loan may qualify for the "50% loan forgiveness policy" for the amount received if they meet two of three required factors, officials said.
Funding for the loan program is coming from both federal and local sources, offering up to $2,300,000 in interest-free loans.