DeKalb County's $15 million loan program to help small businesses impacted by the COVID-19 pandemic has only closed and funded 136 loans totalling $3.384 million, county commissioners were told Tuesday.
Another $1.757 million in loans have been approved, but have not yet closed. Including pending and incomplete applications that may not be approved, the program has offered $10.287 million in loans, according to a report presented to the Board of Commissioners.
The county launched the loan program this summer, using some of the $125 million the county received in Covid-19 funding from the federal government six months ago. The Better Business Loan Program was developed by DeKalb County CEO Michael Thurmond’s administration, in cooperation with the Small Business Subcommittee of the DeKalb COVID-19 Strategic Task Force, which is chaired by Commissioner Steve Bradshaw.
Forgiveness of the loans requires participants to receive business education offered by Georgia Piedmont Technical College. "116 small business owners have been approved to participate," the report said.
"Many of our minority business may not have created the basic fundamental organizational structure needed to qualify even for a progam such as this. That's the real challenge for community-based businesses. Sometimes they've never gotten a business license," Thurmond said. "The thinking is those businesses are businesses we can scale up."