COUNTY OF WELLINGTON – The county’s emergency loan program has approved nearly $1 million in loans and is considered a success by the economic development committee.
Keep Well was a program to provide a small emergency loan to county businesses impacted by the pandemic. Applications were due by April 23.
A report by Crystal Ellis, economic development director, presented at Tuesday’s committee meeting showed $967,400 in loans were approved to 73 applicants. This will support 311 jobs in the region.
The fund was administered by two Community Futures Development Corporations (CFDC). Wellington Waterloo Community Futures (WWCF) covered the south part of the county and the Saugeen Economic Development Corporation (SEDC) for northern municipalities.
The report shows that there were six applicants that weren’t approved and over $1.6 million in loans were requested. George Bridge, Minto mayor and committee chair, explained that some didn’t qualify because of how long they have been in business or staff levels.
The program was also limited in total funding and therefore the CFDCs couldn’t give the full amounts requested.
“We had the limitation of $1 million,” Bridge said to the committee. “We didn’t have to go to the bank and get more so that worked out fine.”
However, Bridge said the CFDCs have new loans that could further help county businesses.
“The new program the CFDCs have should cover some of those people that fell through the cracks,” Bridge said to the committee. “I’ve sent some people to them that couldn’t get any other funding.”
Bridge suggested that some businesses may apply for this new loan and pay back the county because the interest rate is better.
Later on in the meeting, councillor Jeff Duncan asked if the county is planning to do any additional business recovery programming including more financial support.
Bridge said some of the lower-tier municipalities are setting-up task forces to work on this but in his opinion the county should look into coordinating something. He said he wanted to see what businesses need going forward as they begin to re-open.
Warden Kelly Linton explained that Centre Wellington has a detailed plan for recovery that will require working with the county.
CAO Scott Wilson said the county should follow the lead of locals and be able to react quickly if necessary. He used Elora as an example of the county working with the towns to support business recovery.
“We were asked if we can close down the county roads so they can put up patios to help get the businesses back going,” Wilson said to the committee. “We would be happy to do that.”
Councillor Doug Breen agreed that business recovery should start in the local municipalities.
“I think if we try to come up with a plan from up high it’s going to feel heavy handed and a bit ham-fisted,” Breen said to the committee. “I think this really needs to come from the bottom up. We just need to make sure they know that we’re here for them.”