RRFDC offers COVID funding

Ken Kellar

The Rainy Rive Future Development Corporation (RRFDC) is offering help to businesses in the area who will be hit by COVID-19.

Announced last week, the RRFDC is offering COVID-19 Emergency Financing to businesses in the Rainy River District in order to help them bear the brunt of the economic impact that the virus has caused in Ontario and the rest of the world.

“Our staff and our Board of course have realized that it’s going to have a major effect on the businesses in the Rainy River District,” said RRFDC Business Investment Manager Angela Halvorsen.

“We realized it’s going to have an impact across Canada and across the globe, but our area is the Rainy River District so we put together an emergency financing package to assist with businesses that are going to have loss in sales or staffing issues, things like that during this time.”

The fund is available by application through the RRFDC, with the money coming from their loan funds that have been specially earmarked for COVID-19 relief.

“[Businesses can get] just up to $20,000 to assist them with any losses that they may incur, or if they just need cash flow,” Halvorsen explained.

“Obviously the bills are still going to be coming in while they’re going through this situation where everything seems to be closing down and people are staying home and obviously not shopping.”

There are some requirements for qualifying for the Emergency funding, Halvorsen said. First off, the loan can only be given to registered businesses.

“They have to reside within the Rainy River District,” Halvorsen continued.

“We are realizing that things like hotels, restaurants and retail establishments are probably the ones that will be the most affected, although we are of course taking applications from all areas of business. They would be required to submit an application, which we’re sending out to people.”

In addition, Halvorsen noted that business will also have to explain how they’ve been impacted by the virus.

“They would have to have some rationale as to why they will need this money and how it’s affecting their business specifically,” she explained.

“And then things like identification and registrations, all the normal things you would submit with any other loan, but we’re trying to make it accessible to people in need.”

It’s important to note that the Emergency Financing is an actual loan, not a grant; businesses who receive the funding will have to pay it back at the RRFDC’s normal lending rate. However, the RRFDC recognizes that it may take time for the effects of the virus to be felt and dealt with, and so businesses will have a three month grace period before repayment begins.

The Emergency Financing from the RRFDC is also separate from the financial relief packages that the governments have announced, which means businesses might need to weigh their options before applying.

In order to apply for the funding, Halvorsen said businesses can email or call her at 807-276-5101, or Geoff Gillon at 807-276-1592, as recent measures put in place to help prevent and slow the spread of COVID-19 make meeting in person somewhat difficult.

“I’m working from home so everything will be done electronically,” Halvorsen said.

“If they email me I’ll just email [the application] back to them, or if they call me, I’ll get that out to them by email. Everything’s being done electronically as much as we possibly can and then once we have more information from government programs we’re also going to be sharing that with as many people as we can as well.”

As the spread of the virus continues around the world, Halvorsen explained that the RRFDC board is taking the situation day-by-day, and the future of the emergency financing is up in the air when it comes to how long the program will be offered, or how much money there will be to go around.

“Our board has. . . earmarked $200,000 in our Loan Fund but that’s negotiable too,” she said.

“If it gets to the point where that’s used up then they’ll re-evaluate. We’re not stuck on that number and it’s up to $20,000 per business. Obviously some smaller business may not need that much, other large businesses might need that much.” “We’re trying to be as flexible as we can to help people out because don’t want people to end up having to close their businesses as a result of this,” Halvorsen continued.

“We’re here to help. Call, text, email, whatever electronic version of that thing. We’re happy to help and that’s what we’re here for.”