FLOYD COUNTY — Communities across the country are experiencing a crisis unlike any in recent memory.

Entire industries have shut down, from large corporations to small mom and pop shops. Though some economic relief is coming from the state and federal levels, local officials are still concerned about the long-term impacts of the coronavirus pandemic on small, independent businesses in Southern Indiana.

Some have said that they worry the community landscape of Clark and Floyd counties may not be the same once the economy emerges from the months-long hit. Leaders in Floyd County are trying to get ahead of the ball by enacting recovery initiatives.

Last week, the Floyd County Commissioners announced their Economic Stabilization and Recovery Program.

The aim of the program is to give immediate help to small businesses who have seen funding fall due to the virus, putting them at risk of folding. Another tenet of the program is providing relief to non-profit agencies that serve the homeless and elderly, both of which are considered at-risk populations.

“Small businesses are the lifeblood of our economy and we recognize that it will take many types of support to stay in business,” Commissioner Tim Kamer said. “These programs offer fast assistance to those who need it, making recovery faster when the pandemic passes.”

The Community Food Initiative aspect of the plan is set to bring help to local restaurants and food services businesses. An economic stimulus will be infused into these businesses in the form of a purchase of prepared meals by Floyd County that will then be dispersed to non-profit entities that serve homeless and elderly populations in the area.

“Commissioners are standing shoulder to shoulder with our community as we respond to the financial, personal and health impact during these uncharted times,” Commissioner John Schellenberger said. “We have activated a plan to provide food assistance for the homeless and elderly, partnering with local non-profit organizations and through our Redevelopment Commission making available capital-related loans and emergency loans.”

A number of funds were also set up as part of the recovery program. By partnering with the Caesars Foundation of Floyd County, One Southern Indiana and the Community Foundation of Southern Indiana, the commissioners have established an Emergency Loan Fund, to which they put forward $50,000. While federal and state programs will provide long-term assistance, the Emergency Loan Fund is more immediate support of local businesses.

The Redevelopment Commission is also involved in the assistance, after approving two new loan funds through the Community Revolving Loan Fund Program. The Fast Track Loan Fund will be used to help local businesses make capital-related purchases, which could include things like new equipment that could be used to produce essential medical products.

The other fund thought up by the Redevelopment Commission is the Small Business Micro-loan Fund, which will provide relief to businesses who have under five employees and have been affected by the pandemic.

Finally, there is also a Ingenuity and Innovation Fund for entrepreneurs seeking investment on new products that could eventually be used effectively to fight the coronavirus outbreak.

“The entrepreneurial spirit historically has been the foundation of Floyd County’s success,” Commissioners’ president Shawn Carruthers said. “As a result, the commissioners recognized a need to create the Emergency Loan Fund to help those businesses impacted by the COVID-19 outbreak. This immediate support will stabilize our community and serve as a relief to many of the companies who have lost revenue during this time.”

To find out more details on any of the initiatives, call the Floyd County Commissioners Operation and Planning at 812-948-4110 or visit https://www.floydcounty.in.gov/index.php/floyd-county-government/economic-stabilization-program#federal-government-resources.

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