NEW ALBANY — It has been three months since Gov. Eric Holcomb announced an executive “Stay at Home” order for the citizens of Indiana.
Since that time, small businesses throughout the state have struggled to stay afloat during the COVID-19 pandemic and subsequent economic downturn.
Recognizing the need for direct assistance to small businesses, One Southern Indiana (1si), the chamber of commerce and economic development organization for Clark and Floyd counties, along with the Caesars Foundation of Floyd County and the Community Foundation of Southern Indiana, joined together to raise funds to assist.
Response was overwhelming, with funding coming from the three initial partners as well as the BlueSky Foundation, Metro United Way, the Clark and Floyd County Commissioners, the Cities of Jeffersonville and New Albany and the Towns of Clarksville and Sellersburg. Funding was also received from private individuals who wish to remain anonymous.
There were three loan products offered with the funds raised. The first, the COVID-19 Small Business Emergency Forgivable Loan Fund, approved 44 loans for a total of $419,257, which was dispersed to approved applicants within one week. Of that amount, $199,000 was loaned to Clark County businesses and $220,257 to businesses in Floyd County.
Donum Dei Brewery was one of the recipients of this program.
“Donum Dei would like to thank Jerry Finn and the Caesars Foundation of Floyd County, One Southern Indiana and all of the other organizations that contributed to the COVID-19 Small Business Emergency Forgivable Loan.,” said owner Richard Otey.
“This loan will allow us to stay open and maintain our staffing at current levels. It will also give us the opportunity to replenish our raw materials that have been depleted by making hand sanitizer for the community.”
The second loan product, called the Community and Cultural Relief Loan Program, was a zero-interest revolving loan program. From that fund, a total of 44 businesses received $561,295, with $175,946 loaned to Clark County businesses and $385,349 loaned to Floyd County businesses.
Ross Wallace, owner of New Albany’s Him Gentleman’s Boutique, received a loan from this program.
“This loan means so much to me! Thank you, Caesars Foundation, for this amazing opportunity. After Him Gentleman’s Boutique being closed for almost two months and Derby being postponed, the business saw a significant loss of revenue,” he said.
The “Jeffersonville Sustains” Forgivable Loan Program was the third loan product, providing 35 businesses with $172,000 in direct assistance. All recipients of this program were located within the city limits of Jeffersonville.
Phillip and Stefanie Caldwell, owners of Hoopsters Sports Grill, were recipients of this loan.
“We are grateful to live in an amazing community, that during this trying time in our country, steps up and helps their small businesses be able to keep their doors open. The money that has been loaned to us will help us pay our utilities, mortgage and keep buying supplies. We will continue to pay the generosity forward,” the Caldwells said.
Wendy Dant Chesser, president and CEO of 1si, was pleased with the efficiency and results of the program.
“We took on this challenge knowing that every business needed help, and we would not be able to assist them all. But everyone in Southern Indiana can be proud of this effort in our collective time of need,” Chesser said.
“Not only did we have a multitude of partners step forward to support the fund, but we also had 1si and Southeast SBDC staff members assisting loan applicants, volunteers reviewing and approving the loans, and many others who helped get the word out to the community at large.
“This is an incredible accomplishment and its success can be attributed to everyone involved.”