Miami-Dade County is joining cities in South Florida offering forgivable loans to small businesses hurt by the economic fallout of the COVID-19 pandemic.
Called the Small Business Forgivable Loan Program, the county is offering $5 million worth of forgivable loans for small businesses employing low-wage workers. County commissioners approved the program on Tuesday. Miami, Hialeah and other cities have also converted federal aid into direct cash for businesses. The loans, backed by HUD Block Grant funds, can be used for expenses such as rent, salaries, personal protective equipment and utilities. Loans cannot be used for new construction, vehicle purchases, business loan repayment or payment of tax liens.
The zero-interest loans will be made up to $25,000 through the program. The county would cancel the debt and the loans will become grants if borrowers meet job-retention requirements of the loans — jobs must be retained for one year — and are approved by two local nonprofits hired by the county to manage the funding: Tools for Change and Partners for Self-Employment.
To be eligible, businesses must employ 25 or fewer people. The loans will be forgiven based on how many jobs are retained for workers earning less 80 percent of the county’s average income, or $51,200 for a single person. Applicants can not have received assistance from the PPP or similar programs.
“The $5 million Small Business Forgivable Loan Program is an initial step by the county to help small businesses as we responsibly open up for business,” said Miami-Dade Mayor Carlos Gimenez in a statement.