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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.

Hamilton County Launching Small Business Loan Program

Bill Rinehart

Hamilton County is getting ready to launch a program to assist local small businesses with money it's getting from a federal stimulus package. 

County officials will be offering forgivable loans of up to $10,000 at 0% interest. 

The county will be working during the next two weeks to finalize the guidelines for the loans.

Some preliminary terms:

  • Less than $1 million in gross revenue
  • 50 or fewer employees
  • Documentation to show that revenue has been reduced by 50% because of the COVID-19 pandemic
  • Loan forgivable if business retains one full-time position or creates a new full-time position within three months of getting the loan

County Commission President Denise Driehaus said another requirement is that a business cannot have received any assistance from federal programs.
"We are trying to help those small businesses that did not get federal assistance," Driehaus said. "It's not that they didn't necessarily qualify for the PPP (Paycheck Protection Program), they just didn't get it, the money ran out before they got that assistance."

Small businesses could use the loan money for rent, payroll or adapting facilities to comply with reopening safety guidelines. 

For now, the county is setting aside $5 million for the loan program.

"We do anticipate an overwhelming response and we know that," said Assistant County Administrator Holly Christmann. "It's a reality, it's a reality to what we are seeing throughout the country and other programs similar to this one."

In total, Hamilton County has received $142 million from the federal Coronavirus Aid, Relief, and Economic Security (CARES) Act.

Hamilton County has preliminary decided on the following funding items:

  • $50.50 million for public health response
  • $17.25 million got assistance to vulnerable populations
  • $27 million for community and economic assistance
  • $33.75 million for county operational issues

So far, federal officials have not given the county permission to use any of the federal money to help balance the county budget because of revenue losses from the pandemic.
That funding could come in another federal stimulus bill that Congress is expected to begin debating in a few weeks.

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.