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Charlottesville to provide $350,000 to businesses through grants, loans

Charlottesville is making $350,000 available through grants and loans to local businesses hit hard by the coronavirus pandemic.

The Economic Development Authority, in an electronic meeting Tuesday, voted to revamp several of its programs to provide support to the local economy.

“It’s a perfect opportunity for the EDA to step in and do something meaningful,” said Economic Development Director Chris Engel.

The first change revamps the Advancing Charlottesville Entrepreneurs program into the Building Resilience Among Charlottesville Entrepreneurs program. The authority allocated $50,000 to the new initiative.

The micro-grant program will provide up to $2,000 per applicant to cover fixed costs, such as utilities or rent, and fund creative solutions.

The first half of the money can be used for fixed costs, but the second half must be used for changes to business models, like new methods of conducting sales.

Rather than the normal review process with a panel and in-person interview, applications would be submitted online and administratively reviewed.

The second program revamped is the Go Hire Program, which was focused on job training or wage subsidies. Now, the program will focus on helping businesses retain or rehire employees.

The authority provided $100,000 to the initiative.

The third revision was to the Business Equity Fund, which is managed by the Community Investment Collaborative. The changes would add flexibility to the program and shorten turnaround times.

Businesses can receive loans of up to $5,000 that would require no payment over the first six months. The total amount would need to be repaid over two years.

The authority provided $100,000 to the fund.

The final new program is still in development, but the authority supported setting aside $100,000 toward it.

Engel said localities, nonprofits and private donors have expressed interest in creating a “business-focused loan program.”

The resolution adopted by the EDA on Tuesday allows the city to contribute to such a program when it is established.

Most of the funding will come from reserve funds and money already set aside for the programs.

Albemarle County also announced an initiative to help businesses navigate the pandemic on Tuesday.

The county created albemarle.org/businesscovid19 to compile all business-related information in one place.

Tax extension

The county also announced the deadline to file a tax return on personal property used for a trade or business has been extended from May 1 to June 1 while also extending the deadline to pay from June 5 to June 30.

Last week, the city and county extended deadlines for several tax payments or relief applications and the city’s treasury office suspended all collections for past-due taxes and fees.

Meetings canceled

Charlottesville City Council canceled its regular meeting scheduled for Monday and a planned budget work session for Tuesday. Also canceled were next week’s meetings of the Tree Commission, PLACE Design Task Force and Historic Resources Committee.

The city can hold electronic meetings for continuity of government measures, but no such meetings are scheduled. Public meetings of the Planning Commission, Housing Advisory Committee and Human Rights Commission scheduled for the next week have not been canceled, but it’s unlikely they will be held.

The next City Council meeting is scheduled for April 20.

The virus has also interrupted a city government tradition celebrating employee retirements.

Barbara Ronan, a paralegal in the City Attorney’s Office, retired after 37 years with the city. Spokesman Brian Wheeler, rather than hold a party, put together a video for Ronan at the end of the city’s newly-launched Cville360 broadcast on Tuesday.

The Fluvanna County Board of Supervisors announced Tuesday that its meeting on Wednesday will be closed to the public. The meeting will be livestreamed and viewing information will be posted on the county website, Facebook and Twitter by noon.

Anyone who wants to submit comments can email clerk@fluvannacounty.org, calling (434) 591-1910 or by contacting supervisors directly.

Source: www.dailyprogress.com

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