Canton zoning board to host public hearings

Canton Municipal Building. Christopher Lenney/Watertown Daily Times

CANTON — The joint town and village economic development committee is preparing to launch a COVID-19 recovery loan program for small businesses, an additional tract modified from the town’s existing USDA rural development loan program.

Town Supervisor Mary Ann Ashley said the program currently has a total of $74,705 to distribute to Canton small businesses.

Through the modified program, grantees will be eligible to use funds for expenses “related to this new reality,” Economic Development Director Leigh Rodriguez said.

Eligible uses include working capital, purchase of sanitation supplies or personal protective equipment, coronavirus-related signage or other expenses related to new procedures necessary to comply with public health guidelines and state executive orders.

The program allows existing business — defined as those that have been in business for more than six months — to apply for up to $10,000 to be repaid over five years with zero percent interest. For businesses with more than 10 full-time equivalent employees, up to $1,000 per full-time equivalent employee can be issued, with a cap at $25,000. Employee calculations will be based on figures from before any temporary COVID-19 cuts, Ms. Rodriguez said.

“We want to encourage applications from businesses that are interested as soon as possible,” said Tim Danehy, town council member and economic development committee member. “First come, first serve isn’t necessarily the most meritorious way to dole out money, but that’s going to be part of the game here to some degree.”

During a regular town council meeting last week, Ms. Rodriguez added that the program is designed to distribute money “into hands relatively quickly and easily.”

Applications will be reviewed, as they are received, by a five-member advisory committee of volunteer community members, appointed by the town.

Pending a few final approvals from the USDA, the program is expected to feature a third-party underwriting standard, which would involve an external application assessment and security for applicants requesting more than $10,000. Businesses requesting more than $10,000 would also be assessed a $150 application fee.

Ms. Rodriguez said she anticipates receiving final approvals, compiling marketing materials for the town and opening the application process within the next few weeks.

Johnson Newspapers 7.1

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