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Poway City Council approves coronavirus-related loan program

Poway Emergency Assistance Recovery Loans sets aside up to $2 million in city funds for loans. A qualified applicant can receive up to $50,000.

SAN DIEGO COUNTY, Calif. — The Poway City Council on Thursday unanimously approved an emergency loan program for small businesses affected by the coronavirus pandemic.

The Poway Emergency Assistance Recovery Loans program sets aside up to $2 million in city funds for loans. A qualified applicant can receive between $5,000 and $50,000.

Loan funds could be used to cover payroll, lease or mortgage payments, utilities and accounts payable, according to the city.

The program "works hand-in-hand with other programs out there," including state or federal ones, said Craig Ruiz, Poway's economic development administrator.

To qualify for a loan, a local business must have existed for at least one year with no more than 50 full-time employees.

The business must also be independently owned and operated and cannot receive assistance from a corporate franchise.

Loan repayment will begin 90 days after the local emergency is lifted, according to the city.

Applicants must be in good standing with the city and have a business certificate, Ruiz said. Illegal or home-based businesses are ineligible for a loan.

Mayor Steve Vaus described the loan as "a hand up, not a hand out. We expect to get it back."

If the city can offer small businesses a lifeline, "we need to do it and do it now," Vaus said.

"Poway is remarkable how it comes together in the face of challenges," Vaus said.

The application process will start April 23 on a secure web site, Ruiz said.

"We want to be able to promote this to our business community," said Ruiz, who added his department has contacted the chamber of commerce about it.

The start date will also give applicants more of a fair opportunity "to be at the front of the line" for consideration, Ruiz said.

At its regular meeting last week, the council passed a moratorium on commercial evictions in an attempt to help those affected by the coronavirus. The moratorium will last until May 31.

Both the San Diego city and county governments have also passed moratoriums on evictions for residents and business owners, and local officials have also started several business assistance programs.

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