City of Lockhart to offer more COVID grants to aid local businesses
By Kristen Meriwether, Editor LPR
With the pandemic still affecting local businesses, the Lockhart City Council reauthorized the COVID-19 Economic Relief Fund for 2021. Instead of offering loans and grants to aid businesses as they did last year, the city will only offer $5,000 grants. The grant amount is double what was offered in May 2020.
“I think giving them a little money—which doesn’t really help them sustain—is basically throwing away that little bit of money, versus giving them enough where it will make a difference and help them keep their doors open,” Council Member Kara McGregor said at the Jan. 19 council meeting.
The council also voted to give a six-month forbearance on repaying loans taken out from the fund last year. The council will revisit the impact on local businesses after the six months and reassess forgiving the loans. The issue of forgiving the loans now was discussed, but ultimately not approved on the grounds that the payments could be used to fund future grants, and that there were no overdue or late payments on the current loans.
The fund currently has $116,931 available. In 2020 the city provided 16 grants of $2,500 each totaling $40,000, and 18 loans totaling $110,000.
Director of Lockhart’s Economic Development Corporation Mike Kamerlander said when the grants were distributed in May 2020 other county and chamber grants were being offered at the time. Since those grants are not currently being offered, there may be more business that apply this time.
With the reauthorization the city will formulate a new application, using largely the same language and process as in May. If more applicants apply than money available, preference will be given to bars and restaurants, who are currently dealing with the most severe restrictions.