Ruta Smith file photo

Charleston Mayor John Tecklenburg and Charleston LDC CEO Steve Saltzman announced an $850,000 revolving loan fund to help pull businesses affected by the COVID-19 pandemic out of the trenches.

The city of Charleston was awarded the funds in partnership with community lender LDC under the federal CARES Act to supplement the city’s existing Economic Development Administration revolving loan fund. Over the past 20 years, the agency has loaned more than $4 million to small local businesses.

As a tourism-anchored city, Charleston has felt the economic impact of coronavirus-related public health precautions that triggered an overnight halt in travel to the Holy City. Flights into Charleston airports have begun to recover, but were still more than 30 percent down in August compared to 2019, according to the Charleston Aviation Authority.

“These additional funds will be of enormous assistance to small businesses across the city, including women and minority owned businesses that were left out by traditional lending institutions during the height of the pandemic,” according Ruth Jordan, the city’s minority- and women-owned business enterprise.

Initial loans can range from $10,000 to $100,000 and can be used to cover expenses related to a variety of COVID-19 related activities, like hiring and retaining employees, developing websites, remote service technologies, outdoor service, delivery vehicle service and compliance with COVID-19 safety precautions.

Loan repayments will return to the revolving fund to be re-allocated to local businesses.

“We are excited about this partnership with the city of Charleston and the Economic Development Administration,” Saltzman said. “It will allow us to serve the most vulnerable local businesses who have been directly impacted by COVID-19 and whose survival is most crucial to the Lowcountry’s recovery.”

Business owners can begin to apply for a loan by contacting the Charleston LDC at info@charlestonldc.org or calling (843) 973-7298.