CAN DO joins the City of Hazleton, Greater Hazleton Chamber of Commerce and other members of the Greater Hazleton COVID-19 Recovery & Resiliency Task Force to announce that funding is now available via a USDA loan program to support Hazleton City restaurants.
The City of Hazleton has approximately $30,000 in existing funding from the United States Department of Agriculture’s (USDA) Rural Business Enterprise Loan Fund that can provide zero-percent interest loans to city-wide restaurants who were affected by the COVID-19 pandemic. Any restaurant located within the City of Hazleton and established prior to December 2019 is eligible to apply.
CAN DO Business Development Specialist, Mark Minnig, said, “With funding sources as scarce as they currently are, this is just another example of the City of Hazleton and the Task Force members working together to be creative with existing resources and determine how to best utilize them.”
Requested loans may be used to assist city-wide restaurants with monthly fixed expenses throughout the course of the COVID-19 Pandemic and/or reopening working capital expenses such as inventory. Restaurants may apply for up to two-and-one-half (2 ½) times the amount paid in Mercantile Tax to the City of Hazleton during the previous year, up to a maximum of $2,500. If approved, funds will be disbursed after proof of expenses such as bills, invoices, or quotes are submitted to the City of Hazleton and approved as eligible uses of funds. Repayment terms for this program consist of zero-percent interest for two (2) years with quarterly payments beginning six (6) months after funds are disbursed. Proof of expenditure may be required within six (6) months of disbursement.
Restaurants that are interested in obtaining an application for the loan program can contact Joseph Zeller III, Director of the City of Hazleton's Office of Community and Economic Development, at 570-459-4965. In addition to the application, restaurant owners must submit a copy of their business license, evidence that their taxes are current including the Mercantile Tax, and copies of their Mercantile Tax records.
Zeller said, “I’m gratified that this loan program has been made available to city restaurant owners. All local businesses have experienced tremendous economic hardship throughout the pandemic but the restaurants, many of which are family owned and have been for generations, have faced the sharpest strike.”
Greater Hazleton Chamber of Commerce President Mary Malone said, “This is another great example of our community marshaling all resources and avenues to help small businesses endure the challenges of the pandemic. We appreciate the city's willingness to change the format of the USDA funding to meet the challenges for restaurants in the city due to the most recent mitigation efforts put into place.”