Businesses repaying emergency loans provided through Keep Well

GUELPH – Local businesses assisted by a $1-million emergency loan program funded by the County of Wellington are almost all managing to repay the funds.

The Keep Well Fund was established in March 2020 to support Wellington County businesses during the COVID-19 pandemic.

Administered by the two Community Futures Development Corporations serving Wellington County – Wellington Waterloo Community Futures and the Saugeen Economic Development Corporation –  the fund distributed $891,400 through 60 loans with an average loan amount of $15,108, supporting an estimated 290 jobs, according to a staff report prepared by county economic development director Crystal Ellis.

“This council, when we got into the pandemic … came to the table very quickly with that million dollars,” noted councillor George Bridge, who chairs the county’s economic development committee, at the Sept. 30 meeting.

Of the principal funds advanced, just over $141,000 has been repaid as of June 30.

Of the 60 loans “only one is at risk of non-payment” of a “very small” amount, explained Bridge.

“We’ve saved a lot of businesses, I think, on that program,” said Bridge.

“No payments have been made on one $8,000 loan set up as doubtful at the end of 2020 and it remains at risk for non-repayment and has interest owing of $295,” the report states.

Recovery grant

Bridge pointed out the Wellington County Recovery Grant program was also administered by the two community futures organizations.

The program provided 158 grants totalling just over $150,000 to businesses in the county to help with pandemic-related expenses such as personal protective equipment,  safety supplies, support services and physical and technological adaptation.

“We’re sending a letter on behalf of the county and the Western Ontario Warden’s (Caucus) to local MPs’ offices to recognize the exceptional support provided by the community futures organization,” said Bridge.

“This has been a great organization and they do so much with the little money that the federal government gives them.”