The unexpected arrival of COVID-19 has been the defining event of 2020, especially in terms of its economic impact on small businesses. However, it’s the arrival of a new relief program that has local small business owners hopeful that the funding can help them survive to outlast the pandemic.
The Regional Relief and Recovery Fund (RRRF) is designed to provide financial support directly to small businesses and social enterprises in rural and remote communities to ensure their short-term stability. It is being offered nationally through the Government of Canada’s Community Futures Development Corporation (CFDC), and administered locally by the Orillia Area Community Development Corp (CDC). Wendy Timpano, general manager of the CDC, says the funding opportunity is vital to help mitigate the challenges local businesses are experiencing as a result of fluctuating COVID-19 restrictions.
“We’ve seen throughout the pandemic that many small businesses are falling through the cracks in terms of their ability to access programming and resources available to sustain themselves,” said Timpano. “This funding is meant to address those gaps.”
As GM of the CDC, Timpano says she is aware that some businesses have managed to successfully manoeuvre their way through the turbulent economic ups and downs brought on by the pandemic. However, she sees the RRRF support as a critical source of funding to ensure the future of the local small business sector.
“There are some small businesses that are thriving because they have been able to pivot or the services and products they offer are necessary and needed during the pandemic,” she said. “Yet so many small businesses are struggling. Through the summer they settled in and felt it was getting better. Now with the second wave, that uncertainty is back in full force and it’s impacting small businesses in a variety of sectors.”
There are a number of factors that determine whether a business or enterprise is eligible for the funding, which comes in the form of loans of up to $40,000. Timpano said there are many additional benefits that make the loans attractive to businesses applying for the RRRF funding.
“Although it is a loan, there is the option for 25 per cent of that loan to be forgiven if a business can pay back 75 per cent of the loan by December 31, 2022. That can be a huge benefit for any business. The other key features include zero per cent interest and no payments for over two years.”
Local businesses have the option of applying through the federal government’s website or directly to the local Orillia Area CDC. Timpano says there are advantages to working with the local CDC to secure the loan.
“We are local ourselves. We know our local businesses and we know our local economy. We will help businesses find the right solution and resources that meet the needs of their business. We offer a very simple online application.”
While the CDC has just received round two of funding, Timpano says businesses should act quickly if they hope to secure funds.
“We have already seen a flurry of activity in the first weeks the application has been open online,” she said. “We want to say don’t delay. Give us a call or visit our website. Even if you’re uncertain as to whether you qualify, call us and we can help you find what you need.”
Visit the Orillia Area CDC at 22 Peter St. S. in Orillia. Find out more by clicking here.