Many Jacksonville small businesses still working to get financial help

Many small businesses in Jacksonville for waiting for government assistance due to the coronavirus pandemic.

JACKSONVILLE, Fla. – Loans and grants are available from the Small Business Administration as well as the city of Jacksonville, but getting those loans has proven difficult for some businesses owners.

Callie Webb owns Brew Five Points in Riverside. Her business is able to stay open, but she is asking for financial help from the federal government. A week ago, she went to the Small Businesses Administration’s website to apply, but ran into some problems.

“It was hard to get through to the website because of the server, which is understandable. There’s probably hundreds of other places applying at the same time,” Webb said.

She was eventually able to get in and upload many documents, but as of Wednesday, she said she was waiting to hear back. That has been a problem for many others who are trying to get help since federal programs were announced.

Jacksonville Mayor Lenny Curry signed into legislation a local program that could help Webb and others. It’s a partnership with VyStar Credit Union.

The city is now spending $26 million and working with VyStar on low interest loans for businesses that will keep staff employed.

“I just need to see if we qualify or what the terms are,” Webb said.

On its web page, VyStar said it’s no longer accepting applications for the SBA loan. A spokesperson for VyStar told News4Jax on Wednesday that the city loan program is going well with no problems. The statement reads in part:

“VyStar Credit Union moved quickly to partner with the City of Jacksonville to offer another option - the Business Community Relief Loan program. This program—separate from the PPP—gives us the ability to take a hands-on approach to deliver results in a more timely and efficient manner. Applying for this loan will not impact the ability to apply for the SBA’s program, and we will resume taking SBA applications when that system is restored.”

It’s unclear how many local businesses have applied for the program.

There have been lots of questions about this program and how it will actually work. On Thursday at 9 a.m. the mayor, the Chamber of Commerce and VyStar are holding a web conference to address the concerns. It’s free to join, but participants must register.

About the Author:

Jim Piggott is the reporter to count on when it comes to city government and how it will affect the community.