CORPUS CHRISTI, Tex. — The city council is turning to a trusted partner to help local small businesses during the COVID-19 crisis.
At a special council meeting Tuesday, the city is expected to approve a $2 million agreement with LiftFund to provide small businesses with interest-free micro-loans of up to $25,000 to help cover expenses.
Work is at a stand still for Mammoth Construction. The residential contractor shut down its jobs because of COVID-19 concerns.
“If my guys aren’t working, there’s no income coming in,” said owner Eddie Aguilar.
Despite no money coming in, Aguilar is paying his crews, even though they aren’t working.
“We try to consider our guys and what they’re going through, what their families are going through,” said Aguilar. “We’re really trying to be considerate, but at the same time we can only maintain it for so long.”
The city council, led by District 3 representative Roland Barrera, has a plan.
“We want to make sure that when all this passes, they’re still there,” said Barrera, who previously used LiftFund to grow his own small business.
Keeping businesses like Aguilar's afloat is the thought process behind Barrera's idea of working with LiftFund to help small businesses.
“We saw they were doing the in Bexar County, that week they were going to do it in El Paso,” said Barrera. “They’re doing it in Harris County, Laredo and now they’re looking at Victoria.”
To pay for the loans, the city will make the $2 million available from the streets maintenance portion of the city’s general fund. The city will then use $2 million in type a funds, which can be used for streets, to replenish the streets maintenance budget.
“Money that’s already been appropriated, now we’ve re-allocated funds from the type a money to fill that gap so this money can be utilized,” said Barrera.
Uncertainty for businesses during this COVID-19 crisis has several who hadn’t heard of LiftFund suddenly considering a loan. Businesses which get the loans don't have to start paying the money back for 120 days. Aguilar says he’ll likely apply for one of the interest free loans and praises Barrera for the idea.
“We’re grateful to have our community leaders that are actually interested in helping us and doing everything they can to get us some ideas,” said Aguilar.
Because the ordinance is being considered as an emergency action, the council only needs to approve it once. Tuesday’s special city council meeting starts at 9:30 a.m.