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As a new strain of coronavirus (COVID-19) swept through the world in 2020, preparedness plans, masking policies and more public policy changed just as quickly. WVXU has covered the pandemic's impact on the Tri-State from the very beginning, when on March 3, 2020, Ohio Gov. Mike DeWine barred spectators from attending the Arnold Sports Festival in Columbus over concerns about the virus, even though Ohio had yet to confirm a single case of COVID-19.

Help For Small Businesses During COVID-19 Crisis

Bill Rinehart

Hamilton County officials are urging small businesses affected by the COVID-19 crisis to complete a Disaster Loan Declaration form.

The Hamilton County Development Co. (HCDC) said the form is not a loan application. Instead it allows the state of Ohio to gather "small business impact data to expedite a disaster declaration."

Many small businesses like bars and restaurants have been ordered to close their doors. Other firms have been forced to make drastic changes to how they ordinarily do business and that's costing them revenues.

Right now, Ohio has not been declared "an eligible disaster area." That means small businesses are not eligible for Economic Injury Disaster Loans through the Small Business Administration (SBA). The state is trying to compile data to suggest there needs to be such a declaration.

Ohio Gov. Mike DeWine and Lt. Gov. Jon Husted sent a letter and application to the SBA Tuesday to qualify the state for the program.

"Small businesses are the backbone of our economy and we are seeking assistance from the business community to help the State of Ohio attain a disaster area declaration from the SBA so that Ohio businesses can become eligible for the Economic Injury Disaster Loan Program," said HCDC President and CEO Patrick Longo. "We want to make sure our businesses have access to as many business assistance tools as possible during this difficult time."

If such a declaration is made, the SBA Direct Loan Program can provide up to $2 million per small business to assist with economic recovery.

"Each day we are seeing the impact of COVID-19 on our local economy," said Hamilton County Commission President Denise Driehaus. "The quicker we can open up resources for our Ohio businesses, the better. Small businesses need some certainty in this uncertain time."

Jay Hanselman brings more than 10 years experience as a news anchor and reporter to 91.7 WVXU. He came to WVXU from WNKU, where he hosted the local broadcast of All Things Considered. Hanselman has been recognized for his reporting by the Kentucky AP Broadcasters Association, the Ohio Society of Professional Journalists, and the Ohio AP Broadcasters.