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Lane County Creates Small Business Emergency Loan Fund

Lane County Government


In order to prevent the spread of COVID-19, local businesses have reduced service—or even closed temporarily. Now, Lane County has created a fund to help relieve financial stress from local businesses.

Lane County, the City of Springfield, the City of Eugene and Community Lending Works have come together to create a Small Business Emergency Loan Fund (SBELF). 

In total, there is $400,000 in the SBEL fund. Lane County Government has contributed $200,000 and The City of Springfield has contributed $100,000. The City of Eugene has provided $100,000, and has added flexibility to its existing loan program. City of Eugene Mayor Lucy Vinis said they can also work with businesses to defer existing loan payments if they currently have an active loan with the city.

$120,000 of these funds will be reserved for businesses located outside of Eugene and Springfield.

Austin Ramirez is the Lane County Community and Economic Development Manager. He said their goal is to help businesses who can’t stay open, so they can be ready to “rebuild, rehire, and reopen,” in the future. 

“These funds can help businesses cover fixed expenses, costs associated with modified operations, or bridge funding until additional resources are available,” said Rameriz. 

Small businesses can apply for loans up to $30,000, with a maximum 2% interest rate. There will be no payments for the first six months, then six months of interest-only payments. Community Lending Works will approve funds within days of submitting an application. 

Eligible businesses are those with 20 or less full-time equivalent (FTE) employees as of the end of 2019. One FTE equals 32 hours or more. So for part-time employees, businesses will combine employee hours to determine their FTE. 

Interested businesses can apply to Community Lending Works starting at noon on Sunday, March 22 at www.communitylendingworks.com.

In case the Community Lending Works website becomes overloaded, businesses can email their inquiries to emergencycapital@communitylendingworks.org

Ramirez said it is difficult to determine how many businesses will be able to receive help using the SBEL fund since these loans are first-come-first-served for eligible applicants. 


“Each loan will be decided on a case-by-case basis by Community Lending Works loan officers,” said Ramirez. “We would like to help as many as we can, but we expect the need to greatly outweigh our resources.”


Mayor Vinis also encouraged businesses and their employees to reach out to the Oregon Employment Department to learn more information about the resources available to them if they have been laid-off.


Lane County officials also encouraged people to continue to support local business by using food delivery services from restaurants, or purchasing a gift card to use later.

Elizabeth Gabriel is a former KLCC Public Radio Foundation Journalism Fellow. She is an education reporter at WFYI in Indianapolis.
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