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(UPDATE: APRIL 29, 2020) The City Council of Riverdale decided to pass on the no-interest loan program proposed by the mayor to help Riverdale-based, small businesses affected by the COVID-19 outbreak.

Residents present for the meeting – which was conducted online – raised concerns with the program and, in general, felt it duplicated other programs offered by the state and federal governments. There was also concern about how difficult it would be for the City’s staff to manage the program and how the loans would be secured to minimize financial risk.

Everyone spoke highly of the intent of the measure and the desire to find other ways to help those small businesses struggling with being shut down and families who have had their incomes reduced, and in some cases, eliminated. But this program was not one the City Council felt comfortable moving ahead with.

(UPDATE: APRIL 26, 2020) The City Council of Riverdale will review a proposed program that will provide Riverdale-based, small businesses with no-interest loans of up to $4,800. Details of the program can be found here.

The program’s details were pulled together by Mayor Mike Bawden at the request of City Council Members who were concerned about the viability of several of the community’s small businesses who were caught by surprise when the Governor of Iowa issued the state-wide disaster proclamation related to the COVID-19 outbreak. “In many cases,” explained the Mayor, “Small businesses just don’t have the financial wherewithal to cover a catastrophic loss of income and still cover expenses while state and federal agencies like the SBA try to respond. Small bars, restaurants, health clubs and retailers need cash flow to keep the doors open – or, at a minimum, to make sure they are still around when the federal government finally shows up with their relief check.”

In many cases, stimulus checks from the federal government are getting caught up in red tape and that could spell the end of many small businesses.

“I think the Council wanted to address that issue, but not give away the store,” explained the Mayor, noting the conversation at the April 14th meeting included making the loans forgivable and possibly expanding the program to include residents who were having problems making critical payments like rent or their monthly mortgage. “The City Council discussed a lot of things, but when the conversation finally came to a close, it was pretty clear they wanted to move incrementally. The proposal on the table at Tuesday’s meeting is just that.”

(ORIGINAL: APRIL 19, 2020) The City of Riverdale is working on rolling out a program providing up to $5,000 in no-interest loans to Riverdale-based businesses affected by the COVID-19 outbreak.

The motion provided to City Council Members at their April 14 meeting was a working document prepared by the Mayor with the hope it would steer the conversation toward a definitive path. The basic framework was what was originally proposed by Council Members Anthony Heddlesten and Kevin Adams – both of whom approached the Mayor to see what might be done.

“Businesses need help now,” explained Council Member Adams, who had spent some time visiting with Jamie Long, the proprietor of MY PLACE (Riverdale’s only bar). He shared his realization that there were a number of expenses a business had that it couldn’t avoid with a rapid shut-down. “The cable service needs to stay on because it’s under contract and it’s connected to the bar’s security cameras.” Orders for product, rent and other expenses continue to mount while the business is shuttered by the State.

Concerns about the fate of the DUCK CREEK PANCAKE HOUSE as well as the gym, the motor cycle clinic and other businesses were shared by members of the City Council.

A Direction Gets Set

The Council asked the Mayor to put together the basic structure of a program they could vote on at the next City Council Meeting (on April 28).  Key points of the program:

•  Money provided to businesses should be loans rather than grants.

•  Loans can be at 0% interest, but should be secured and there should be a definite pay-back schedule.

•  Loan amounts should be capped (for now) at $5,000.

•  Need to set a maximum amount of money in the program so it’s not “open ended.”

•  Applying for a loan should be simple.

•  Not sure if home-based businesses should be included.

Do Individual Citizens Need This Assistance?

A question was raised as to whether or not individual residents needed help with making ends meet. Although no direction on this matter was given at the meeting, it may come up again in the future.