Delaware leaders continue to review options on providing money for loans to businesses struggling with reopening from Ohio's COVID-19 coronavirus pandemic shutdown.

Mayor Carolyn Kay Riggle said Delaware City Council might hold a special meeting on the topic Monday, June 1. If scheduled, the meeting would be the fourth during which council has discussed the loan program, also reviewed during a regular council meeting May 11, a special council meeting May 26 and a meeting of council's finance committee May 13.

The discussions were prompted by a Delaware County plan, approved by county commissioners May 14, to provide loans of between $10,000 and $25,000 to cover up to four months of rent, mortgage and/or utilities payments to businesses affected by the pandemic and the ensuing shutdown of many businesses.

The loan terms would extend five years at an interest rate no higher than 4% and an initial rate of 3%, county officials said. First payments also may be deferred up to six months.

Buckeye State Bank will provide the loans and review each loan application.

Orange and Liberty townships have approved contributions of $250,000 each to the program. The city of Powell has discussed making a contribution, but Delaware council members from the onset mulled whether the city should create its own program instead of donating to the county's.

At Delaware City Council's May 26 meeting, city economic-development director Sean Hughes said his research since the May 13 meeting shows the city could work with Ohio's Economic and Community Development Institute, a statewide Small Business Administration lender, to establish a program.

Hughes said the city could start an ECDI program with up to $350,000.

"What they proposed to us was taking our money, tripling it -- which they've done with other communities -- that would give us about $900,000" available for loans, he said.

The five-year loans would range from $2,500 to $25,000 at 3% interest and would be available to businesses with a minimum credit score of 590, he said.

"We would set the criteria with them for how businesses would get approved for the loans, but it would be done by (the ECDI) loan committee," he said.

Council member George Hellinger has advocated for the city to create its own loan program rather donating to the county program.

He said the ECDI concept is more viable than the county program, allowing smaller loans and lower credit scores with a lower interest rate.

"What's not to like there? I mean, I don't even understand why we're discussing this at this point," Hellinger said.

Council member Lisa Keller, who also has advocated for the city to create its own program, said she agreed with Hellinger.

City Manager Tom Homan said May 26 the city administration could prepare a report on the pros and cons of the county plan and the ECDI concept, and noted council's next regular meeting is set for June 8. Riggle then said a June 1 special meeting is an option.

County commissioner Gary Merrell, county economic development director Bob Lamb and Donald Rankey Jr., a member of the committee working to establish the county loan program, sat in on council's livestreamed May 26 meeting.

The county has proposed the city donate at least $250,000 to its program.

Lamb said the committee is working to make the program equitable across the entire county, and Rankey said the county would like to have 300 loan applications processed in 30 days.

Rankey earlier said the county has secured more than $3.25 million in funding from local governments and governmental agencies and is seeking a matching grant through JobsOhio, a statewide economic-development agency.

As of May 26, JobsOhio was reviewing the county's proposal.

Council also discuss a proposed ordinance to create a grant program for businesses additionally affected by flooding that struck the city along Delaware Run early May 19.

The city's Twitter account said high water affected an area between Franklin and Elizabeth streets, and posted a video showing the intersection of William and Liberty streets under water.

Assistant city manager Kyle Kridler said the city has $100,000 in a development reserve fund that can be used for grants ranging from $2,500 to $5,000. He said the city can start taking applications June 1, pending council's later approval of the program.

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