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Rockford loan program aims to help small businesses survive COVID-19 pandemic

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ROCKFORD (WREX) — Ray Richmond has owned Luxe on Alpine for about a year. But he says the salon and barbershop has been in that location for decades and earned a loyal customer base over the years.

"They remember the barbers here well before I was born," says Richmond. "And got a cut in this chair in this spot. So for them to come through and sit here and get a cut is purely nostalgic."

During the COVID-19 pandemic, Richmond says the future of the community staple was bleak.

"When we quarantined for those two and half months, the bills didn't stop," says Richmond. "To know there's a possibility we won't open again was scary."

Richmond explains his business was too small to qualify for state or federal aid. Luckily, the shop qualified for Rockford's Microenterprise Loan Program which provided $25,000.

"When you inject resources like that into a microenterprise it's extremely significant," says Richmond. "That's almost six months worth of expenses that's able to happen."

Over the last two months the city of Rockford says it's awarded 25 of these loans to businesses which have five or fewer employees. The money comes from the federally funded Community Development Block grant and is broken up into a $15,000 loan and a $10,000 grant.

"What's wonderful about this round is they've allowed some additional flexibilities for applicants interested in this program," says City of Rockford Small Business Liaison Jonathan Bell.

Bell explains those flexibilities include applicants only needing to provide their income and not their entire household. He adds applicants also have the ability to self certify that income.

"These new guidelines allow us to process these loan applications far more efficiently and be able to get the money in the hands of business owners who really need the working capital," says Bell.

If you'd like more information on this program email businessfirst@rockfordil.gov or click here.

Mary Sugden

Mary Sugden is the Investigative Reporter at WREX. She joined the team in December 2014 as the evening producer. In 2015 she made the move to evening reporter before joining the 13 Investigates team in May of 2018.

She grew up in Woodstock, Illinois and graduated from Woodstock High School in 2009. Mary graduated with a degree in Journalism and Marketing from Loyola University Chicago in 2013.

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