First State trying to get emergency loans out to small businesses
The state’s effort to get needed funds to Delaware small businesses struggling during the COVID-19 pandemic is taking time to ramp up.
The Delaware Division of Small Business is offering monthly no interest loans through its Hospitality Emergency Loan Program (HELP) to cover expenses, such as rent and utilities.
Small Business Division Director Damian DeStefano says its received around 300 applications. The first loan went out a week after the program launched last month, but to date only about 15 have been processed or are near completion.
And he says they are still seeing a lot of businesses seeking assistance.
“There’s definitely been a spike in volume. We’re definitely dealing with a high volume of people coming to our office," said DeStefano. "Some people for a specific program here, some people just looking for resources generally. And we’ve been happy to provide both of those things.
The Div. of Small Business says the delay in processing HELP loans stems in part from incomplete applications. Businesses need to show a bill connected to what they are seeking a loan for and proof they have paid it on time previously. They recommend people contact the office before submitting an application. Regional managers for each county and Wilmington can assist making sure a business understands what is required to apply.
DeStefano notes only fifty percent of HELP applicants are restaurants, hotels, and small tourist attractions. That's because the program is no longer focused solely hosspitality industry.
“Last week, we expanded the program to include personal care services as well. So, that’s your barbershops, your small salons - things like that,” DeStafano said. Those businesses were added when Gov. Carney updated his emergency order, designating them as non-esstential and forcing them to close.
Loans of up to $10,000 a month are available. Eligible business must have been in operation for at least a year, with annual revenue below $1.5 million. The loans have a 10-year term with payments deferred for nine months, and the money cannot be used for personnel costs.
Once approved, businesses can simply re-request funds each month.