Middletown is taking steps to help its small businesses survive the economic fallout of the coronavirus.
The small businesses along Main Street and across the city are a key piece of Middletown's economy. The mayor said the city is trying to do what's possible to make sure they're around whenever the pandemic passes.
As the hum of nightlife slowly returns, the city is launching a new small business loan program to try to maintain as much of that vibrancy as possible.
"We just need to make sure that for the people who are on the margins, we’re helping them where we can," Mayor Ben Florsheim (D) said.
The Middletown Economic Bridge Development Loan will provide up to $10,000 for businesses in the city with 20 or fewer employees. The loans can be used for repaying start-up expenses, investing in new technology, or transition costs of shifting to a new business model.
The mayor said right now so many businesses are hardly getting by because of COVID-19, and the city wants to do anything possible to help them hang on.
"A lot of the small businesses, especially places like restaurants and coffee shops which we have a lot of operate on really, really tight margins. They’re worried about their employees not being able to afford to come back," Florsheim said.
The city moved some existing employment funding and approved new funding to pay for the $250,000 program.
"We want that to go to businesses where it will help them keep their doors open, keep another person on staff for a little bit longer," the mayor said.
He added that the city is trying to take any steps it can to help business owners, but that relief has its limits, and he wants more federal dollars to help fill the gaps created by COVID-19.
"It shouldn’t be on the little guy to fix this. It shouldn’t be just on the small business or just on the small business customer," he said. "They’re the ones with the power to be able to fix this from an economic standpoint in addition."
The mayor said he's hopeful that the city will at some point get another round of federal funding, and when that happens, he hopes to be able to devote more money for these programs, in addition to a campaign encouraging people to come spend time in Middletown safely.
To apply for the program, click here.