OSWEGO — Port City small businesses won’t have to repay emergency loans the city offered at the onset of the COVID-19 pandemic.
Oswego Mayor Billy Barlow announced Thursday the city of Oswego is forgiving nearly $300,000 in COVID-19 business loan funds issued in March 2020. City officials plan to cover the costs using the $1.89 million due to the city as part of the $1.9 trillion American Rescue Package approved by the Democratically controlled congress earlier this month.
A year after the loans were issued, Barlow said the city would use American Rescue Plan money to fully forgive all loans, converting them into grants immediately.
"Small businesses were among the hardest hit at the beginning of the pandemic last March, continued to struggle due to economic restrictions throughout the pandemic and need assistance as they finally begin to reopen,” the mayor said Thursday. “Even as our economy re-opens, local, small businesses still face restrictions and many other challenges and that is why immediately converting the loan funding to grant funding is so helpful and important.”
The small business loan program was quickly established after state restrictions led many businesses to shutter in March 2020. The 20-month, no-interest loans were aimed at assisting businesses through the unexpected closures and restrictions that for many slashed revenues and limited cashflow throughout 2020.
The city issued 33 loans totaling $276,000.
Nick Canale owns Canale's Restaurant and received a $10,000 emergency loan last March, and thanked Barlow and the city, noting “in a time of great uncertainty” city officials provided critical assistance.
“The emergency loan came at the perfect time and really gave us peace of mind at an incredibly stressful time,” Canale said. “Throughout the pandemic the city has been such a valuable partner to local businesses like mine.”
The Comic Shop owner Evan Coy said Barlow and the city’s economic development team “demonstrated tremendous commitment” to small businesses in the community during a difficult time. Coy said the conversion of the loans to grants would ensure better times for all residents.
“The city of Oswego has shown time and again that they are committed to the betterment of our local economy with actions, not just words,” he said. “The Comic Shop is grateful to all involved and look forward to serving our Oswego community for years to come."
Businesses who received the loan funding last March should immediately contact the city’s Office of Economic Development at 315-343-3795 or firstname.lastname@example.org to ensure the conversion of their loan funding into grant funding. Businesses who paid some or all of their loan funding from last year will be entitled to the full grant funding and should also contact the Office of Economic Development.