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Virtual Town Hall Meet Benefits Small Business
The virtual town hall meeting focusing on small business had several attendees that received valuable information. VIRGINIA STILL/THE NEWS

The City of Riverbank hosted a public forum via Zoom to assist local businesses with the Paycheck Protection Program (PPP), the RAD (Relief Across Downtown) Card, and Economic Injury Disaster Loan (EIDL) Program. The meeting was held one evening this past week, hosted by City Manager Sean Scully with approximately 20 attendees and a few consultants.

“We were very excited we had the turnout we had at the meeting,” stated Scully. “It is a lot to ask busy business owners to take an hour of their time in the evening to attend yet another meeting. We hope that they received some value from the experience so that they are competitive in applying for the business assistance programs that were highlighted.”

The meeting was an hour long and began with information about the RAD Card from Downtown Modesto Partnership President/CEO Josh Bridegroom. The RAD card was created to help small businesses by having donors contribute to double the dollars available on the card to spend at businesses in the downtown area. There are several cities participating in the RAD card including Riverbank. Currently El Lee Creative, Jars of Delicious, Magnolia Beauty Co, Get Toasted, Coffee Bruin, and the Hiit Club are participating in the RAD Card in Riverbank. Bridegroom expressed that due to the success of the card and the increased revenues at businesses in Modesto they decided to offer it to other cities.

Scully explained that the idea was discussed in cooperation with the City of Patterson that had a similar meeting the week before. Staff from the City along with assistance from Vice Mayor Luis Uribe and Councilmember Rachel Hernandez organized the meeting to help assist businesses.

“I was very pleased with the interest as well as the questions that were raised and addressed,” noted Scully. “It is important that Riverbank businesses take advantage of these programs while they continue to exist.”

Some of the programs available for small business that were discussed at the meeting were Employee Retention Tax Credit and SBA Debt Forgiveness along with the PPP and EIDL programs.

Patrick Kolasinski and Katy Winders shared information with the attendees about those programs and answered questions.

Kolasinski gave a little history of the PPP that had $609 billion allocated in the first two rounds and another $284 billion of funding for the third round and noted that many businesses are hurting more now than they were in March 2020. He discussed the requirements for the programs, how the amounts of the loans are calculated, and the amount that can be forgiven, adding that if the SBA guidelines are followed up, 100 percent can be forgiven. They also discussed changes to the PPP.

There were questions presented in the chat and then discussed giving some business owners answers and advising them how to proceed.

Winders explained that the EIDL program had fewer changes and that it is a real loan that must be paid back. The program initially ended on Dec. 31, 2020 but has since been extended until Dec. 31, 2021.

Guests had valid questions and concerns and the professionals provided answers and assistance during the meeting that seemed to be very beneficial.

“We have seen a handful of businesses shutter, and a number of other new businesses who have struggled to start or open their business (equally difficult to see),” remarked Scully. “Our hope is that as conditions with regard to COVID-19 transmission continue to improve that our small business economy similarly improves.”

There was a lot of information given regarding programs available to small businesses like the Paycheck Protection Program, provided during a virtual town hall meeting. VIRGINIA STILL/THE NEWS