The Lancaster City Council recently approved a measure to forgive all Stand Strong Small Business Recovery loans awarded to businesses deemed “non-essential” by the State and County health orders during the COVID-19 pandemic to help keep local restaurants, bars, gyms, and hair salons open into 2022.

The City originally launched the Stand Strong Small Business Recovery loan program in March 2020, within one week of California declaring a state of emergency. Like many agencies, the city did not anticipate how long the pandemic would last and the loan program was meant to help small businesses survive when the state locked down.

The City Council understands that many locally-owned, small businesses are continuing to struggle to keep their doors open as the pandemic continues and they believe loan forgiveness could provide relief to those hit hardest.

“The COVID-19 pandemic has taken a challenging toll on so many people over the last two years, and small businesses were hit especially hard,” said Mayor R. Rex Parris. “In forgiving these business loans, we are positive all of our treasured and special local businesses will be able to continue to serve our community and remain a staple in Lancaster for years to come.”

In 2020, qualifying businesses were able to apply for loans between $5,000 and $20,000 to help with necessities including rent, payroll, utilities, services, cleaning supplies, personal protective equipment, and anything else the business may have needed to recover. The city approved 37 loans, totaling $678,267 in funding.

With the City Council’s decision, 28 loans were forgiven, which totals $557,267 in funds that would have been repaid. The City will use federal American Rescue Plan Act (ARPA) funds to reimburse Lancaster’s General Fund.

To learn more about Lancaster’s business resources, visit cityoflancasterca.org/business/business-resources-economic-development.

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