By Bill Spinks

Small businesses in Waxahachie suffering from effects of the COVID-19 pandemic will soon be able to apply for short-term, no-interest loans through the city, following action taken Friday morning in a joint emergency meeting of the City Council and Economic Development Commission.

At a request from City Manager Michael Scott, the city adopted a resolution that allocates up to $1 million from unrestricted funds to fund the Local Stimulus Program for Small Businesses. A loan review committee will be formed and Mayor David Hill will be authorized to sign agreements on behalf of the city regarding the business loans.

The vote on the resolution was 4-1, with councilmember Melissa Olson voting against.

The meeting was held via a conference call because of social distancing restrictions caused by the COVID-19 pandemic. All five council members and Scott participated, as well as Planning & Zoning Chairman Rick Keeler, EDC members Mackey Morgan and Rhyan Phillips, and Waxahachie ISD superintendent Dr. Bonny Cain.

The stimulus program is intended to assist small businesses in the city impacted by the COVID-19 crisis. The purpose of the program, Scott indicated in a memorandum to both city bodies, is to assist qualifying businesses in continuing to meet payroll and basic operating expenses in an effort to minimize the layoff of employees and continuation of operations.

Chapter 380 of the Texas Local Government Code spells out procedures and requirements for economic development assistance programs.

The program will offer loans of up to $50,000 per business that applies to the city for assistance. These businesses must meet several qualifications, including:

• Business must be physically located in the corporate city limits of Waxahachie, and must be in compliance with all applicable zoning and other ordinances. Nonprofit and home-based businesses do not qualify for the COVID-19 Emergency Loan Program.

• Business must have 50 or fewer employees.

• Business must have been in operation for at least six months.

• Business must maintain 80-percent of typical staffing levels throughout the duration of the loan.

• Business must be in good standing (financial and compliance with the city and creditors).

• Business must submit a complete application packet that includes a completed application form, most recent tax returns, balance sheet and profit-and-loss statements for the last six months.

• There is a limit of one loan per applicant.

• Once awarded, a 380 agreement and promissory note will be executed to complete the loan process and initiate payment of funds.

• Applicants should note that award of these loan funds may impact funding from other federal and state programs. Applicant should check terms of other such grant and loan programs.

• Application for this program does not guarantee award of funding.

Those with questions or who need assistance with their application can email or call 469-309-4122.