By Chad Ingram
The Haliburton County Development Corporation has provided millions of dollars in loans to local businesses since the COVID-19 pandemic began nearly a year ago.
“Basically as soon as the pandemic hit, I got the board of directors together, and we created a COVID loans program that was similar to the flood relief program,” HCDC executive director Patti Tallman told members of Haliburton County council during a presentation at a Feb. 24 online meeting. “Loans were provided to businesses that applied at zero per cent, and it was a fast-track moving program that we implemented quite quickly and it was quite successful.”
A total of $1.4 million in funding was requested through the COVID loans program, with more than $900,000 approved in 23 separate loans, $776,000 of which has been dispersed. HCDC also offered payment deferrals for existing clients for three months amid the pandemic, although Tallman said the majority of clients chose not to take that option, and that after the three-month period, 95 per cent of the business owners who received money were able to resume loan payments.
“So it was quite a great process to see the strength of the businesses that we had under our portfolio,” Tallman said.
In May, HCDC received $1.7 million in capitalization funding from the federal government allowing for loans of up to $40,000 with 25 per cent of the amount forgivable. Subsequent top ups provided $40,000 loans with up to 50 per cent forgivable. So far, 42 loans totalling nearly $1.4 million have been dispersed through that funding program.
By sector, main street businesses constituted 22 per cent of loans; sole-proprietor businesses 48 per cent; and tourism operators 30 per cent. By industry, accommodators and food services accounted for 32.4 per cent of loans; arts, entertainment and recreation 2.16 per cent; retail 13.5 per cent; and manufacturing 5.4 per cent. Businesses classified as “other” – including education services, utilities and professional services – accounted for 27 per cent.
HCDC has also provided $5.3 million in funding through its regular loan program since the pandemic began. Tallman thanked Dysart et al Deputy Mayor Pat Kennedy, who is currently chairman of the HCDC board, for his leadership during the crisis.