Wake County Commission discusses $5 million for small businesses

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Monday, May 18, 2020
Wake County Commission discusses $5 million for small businesses
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The Wake County Commission will help small businesses with money from the federal CARES Act.

WAKE COUNTY, N.C. (WTVD) -- The Wake County Board of Commissioners met Monday afternoon to discuss how to best allocate $5 million to assist small businesses in the county.

Commissioners heard arguments from one another during a virtual meeting streamed on the county's website.

The money is made available through funding from the recently-passed federal CARES Act.

Details include, but are not limited to:

  • Small businesses with 100 full-time employees or fewer
  • Non-profits are ineligible to apply
  • Loans provides 2 months worth of revenue, up to $50,000
  • Businesses can only receive one loan
  • $1 million dollars set aside for sole proprietors

District 5 commissioner, Dr. James West, expressed his disappointment with the program being available only as a loan and not a grant. "I think (the assistance) is good," West said. "But people will fall deeper into the hole."

West was concerned about the loan's 5.5% interest rate. "We don't want to set these people up for failure."

Commissioner Jessica Holmes petitioned the Board for an additional allocation of money not tied to an interest rate at that percentage. "It's higher than the interest rate on my mortgage," Holmes said.

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An official in the meeting said the assistance was designed as a loan by the federal government and Wake County would need to abide by Washington D.C.'s guidelines.

"Our non-profits contribute pound for pound just as much as our small businesses to our economy and to the character of our community," said Commissioner Matt Calabria. "And it may be we can find ourselves in a position in the coming weeks to provide a similar program or other supports to our non-profit sector. We know they are hurting because they are fundraising like everybody else."

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Currently, if approved businesses receive the loan, there is not a loan-forgiveness option available.

The Board will officially vote on the item Tuesday afternoon and will accept public comment until 3:00 p.m. Tuesday.

If successful, an official said the application should be available by Thursday and applicants should receive approval within a week.