Loans To Help Businesses Hurt By COVID

Four Chautauqua County businesses are receiving loans to help them recover from COVID-19.

During the recent county Industrial Development Agency meeting, board members approved issuing federal Economic Development Administration’s Revolving Loan Funds to Merritt Estate Winery Inc., Artone LLC, Heritage Ministries and Labyrinth Press Company Inc. The money was left over from previous loans issued.

IDA project manager Kristine Moribato explained that Merritt Estate Winery, located in Forestville, had previously applied for a loan of $82,000 in working capital funding from the federal CARES Act, which were designed to help small businesses recover from the pandemic. However, the IDA had reduced the loan by 50% due to the number of businesses that had applied.

“They still had a need,” Moribato said. “They weren’t able to buy all of the grapes they needed for processing and making wine.”

The county IDA agreed to another $41,000 loan with a repayment plan over seven years with a 2.44% interest rate. Board member Kevin Muldowney abstained from the vote due to the fact that Merritt Winery is a tenant of his.

For Artone LLC, IDA project manager Carol Rasmussen explained that the Jamestown business had originally requested a $250,000 working capital loan. That amount was reduced to $125,000.

“They had 100 employees and they were down to 50,” she said. “They now have regrouped. They have some new demands that are ramping up so this working capital is needed for new employees, for payroll and for training.”

Rasmussen said the hospitality furniture company is up to 99 employees. Their newly approved $125,000 loan will be for seven years with a 2.44% interest rate.

For Heritage Ministries, Rasmussen said they had requested a $250,000 working capital loan, which was reduced by 50%. “They offer secure and serene homes for elderly living but COVID-19 really put a strain on them, especially with the testing supplies. It really put a drain on their cash flow,” she said.

Rasmussen added that Heritage Ministries was mandated to buy new equipment. This time around, Heritage requested a $100,000 loan, which the IDA board approved. It will be for seven years at 2.44% interest.

Labyrinth Press Company, a coffee shop and restaurant located on Fourth Street in Jamestown requested an EDA loan from the county IDA. They sought a $100,000 loan for seven years at 2.44% interested. Unlike the other three businesses, they had not previously received a loan due to COVID-19.

According to Rasmussen, Labyrinth recently purchased Maurice’s Beauty Salon, which was located downstairs from their restaurant. “They purchased that because they need to expand their kitchen,” she said.

When COVID hit, the company had to reduce their staff from 21 people to 11. Since then, the company has been able to regroup and increase its staff. Rasmussen said the money will be used for their new employees, including training expenses.

The county IDA unanimously backed the three remaining loans.

Click here to read this article, written by Gregory Bacon and originally published by the Jamestown Post-Journal.