WEST LAFAYETTE, Ind. (WLFI) — Small businesses are at the forefront for city leaders right now. As we enter week four of the statewide stay-at-home order, West Lafayette is shifting one of its grant programs to benefit various businesses.
"We're realizing that we're basically in crisis mode when it comes to small business," said Mayor John Dennis.
It's no surprise that small businesses are among the first to feel the effects of the stay-at-home order amid COVID-19 but for a city like West Lafayette, this struggle can be detrimental.
"Our population has basically dropped by half, the students are home, they're not here, and in college towns across the country, that hurts," said Dennis.
The city of West Lafayette is shifting the funding from its Community Development Block Grant to help small businesses survive these times.
"In the past, a lot of that funding has been used for infrastructure, sidewalks, access ramps, things like that," said Dennis.
Now it'll help small business owners keep up with their internal needs such as monthly lease/mortgage cost, monthly utility costs, monthly debt payments, monthly insurance costs, monthly payroll costs.
"When it comes to making sure that they can make payroll when it comes to making sure that they can just keep the lights on, it is an opportune time for the government to sort of step up and do the right thing with whatever available funding we have," said Dennis.
Through CDBG money, city leaders have set aside $500,000, they're calling it the "Small Business Stabilization Fund." It will support a business with five or fewer employees, including the owner, up to $10,000 and it will support a business with six or more employees, up to $15,000.
The city has also set aside $262,562 to assist public service agencies such as non-profits, they're calling this "CDBG CARES Act Funding." It applies to any agency demonstrating a need while serving at-risk populations during the pandemic.
"We will get through this and I know that's becoming a cliché but when you think about what we are, who we are and how we all pull on the same side of the rope here in Greater Lafayette, we are ready to stand by as best as we can and ensure that our businesses succeed," said Dennis.
The city is working on an official application for small businesses. Until then, business owners are asked to call West Lafayette City Hall for guidance.
Dennis said this city initiative to help small businesses came just in time. The nation's Small Business Paycheck Protection Program has recently run out of money. It's a $349-billion loan-program designed to assist businesses during tough times.