At a Special Meeting of the Helotes Economic Development Corporation (HEDC) on March 13th, 2020, the HEDC Board of Directors unanimously passed Resolution No. 20-001, A RESOLUTION OF THE ECONOMIC DEVELOPMENT CORPORATION (EDC) OF THE CITY OF HELOTES, TEXAS, ESTABLISHING A SMALL BUSINESS ASSISTANCE PROGRAM AND ELIGIBILITY CRITERIA TO PROVIDE IMMEDIATE, SHORT-TERM FINANCIAL AID TO QUALIFIED SMALL BUSINESSES THAT HAVE BEEN IMPACTED BY COVID-19 IN THE CITY OF HELOTES; APPROPRIATING $336,000 TO ESTABLISH THE PROGRAM; AUTHORIZING THE HEDC EXECUTIVE DIRECTOR TO TAKE ALL NECESSARY STEPS TO IMPLEMENT THE PROVISIONS OF THIS RESOLUTION; INCORPORATING RECITALS; PROVIDING FOR SEVERABILITY; REPEALING ANY OTHER CODE PROVISIONS, RESOLUTIONS, OR PARTS OF RESOLUTIONS, AND OTHER PROVISIONS IN CONFLICT HEREWITH; AND SETTING AN EFFECTIVE DATE.
The Resolution will allow the HEDC Executive Director Marian Mendoza the authority to negotiate and execute a contract with BCL of Texas, a Community Development Financial Institution (CDFI). A total of $300,000 will be available to Helotes small businesses in the form of zero interest loans ranging from $5,000 to $20,000.
HEDC Executive Director Marian Mendoza commented on the process, “We presented two CDFI options to the board of directors at the April 30th HEDC Special Meeting, one being BCL of Texas. One of the reasons the HEDC Board of Directors decided to work with BCL of Texas is their ability to provide their own capital to underwrite loans for our Helotes businesses immediately until the HEDC can release funds. This option provides much needed help to our community’s small businesses sooner rather than later.”
Small business disaster loan assistance is nothing new for anyone who watches mainstream media. Yet, this is the first of its kind for Helotes. The HEDC is funded by sales tax dollars and with most of the City’s businesses being impacted by the COVID-19 pandemic and the stay-in-place order, the HEDC felt now more than ever the Helotes business community needed support to retain employees and cover other working capital.
HEDC Assistant Director Glenn Goolsby commented on the need for this program, “From about mid-March I started receiving calls from local businesses voicing their concerns and asking if the city had any plans in the works. I was aware of other cities in Texas similar in size to Helotes who either already had loan programs establish for other uses or had a disaster loan program in the works. Early on we knew there was a need for such a program and so we started getting the pieces together.”
“I brought a loan and grant idea up to Marian one morning in March after reading yet another news article covering the uncertainty around the Small Business Administration’s (SBA) Economic Disaster Injury Loan and Paycheck Protection Program loans. Several of our Helotes small businesses I was in contact with were uncertain if they qualified for the programs, a few applied but didn’t hear anything from their banks, and several were so confused by the SBA’s guidelines they’d rather risk maxing their credit cards to keep going than criminal charges if they misunderstood anything in the programs’ guidelines.” Said Glenn Goolsby.
Glenn continued, “Later that evening I received an email from Matt McCrossen who sits on the HEDC Board of Directors outlining a disaster relief program and asked if I could pass the email around to the board to see if there was interest. The next day Marian and I started working to get all the research, legal, and board meeting packets ready to make this program a reality for our Helotes small businesses who are not able to obtain federal assistance for one reason or another.”
With several questions about this program now answered, the ball was rolling for a small town of under 10,000 residents to have its own small business disaster loan program. There was a known need, at least one voting board member interested in establishing the program and HEDC staff was already researching other EDCs small business relief efforts.
“There was about a week left in March when I emailed Glenn to see if there was any interest in establishing a relief program for small businesses.” Said Matt McCrossen, a Helotes resident, small business owner and who serves on the HEDC Board of Directors. Matt continued, “At that time I had spoken with all my clients of McCrossen Marketing & Consulting on how their businesses were performing, what their outlook was and if we needed to modify contracts. It was tough to hear the concern in their voices as the pandemic unfolded. I do not have any clients in Helotes, but that did not matter. One of the hats I wear is a volunteer as director on the HEDC board. So, it was logical to ask staff to see if there was any interest in a small business loan and grant program for Helotes businesses based on what my clients are going through.
The Resolution will be read tonight at the Helotes City Council Regularly Scheduled Meeting. Once approved the HEDC Executive Director Marian Mendoza will work with legal counsel, staff and BCL of Texas to execute a contract that will provide assistance to the Helotes small businesses who have been financially effected by the COVID-19 pandemic.
Matt McCrossen shared insight into the small business community, “As we prepared for our HEDC Special Meetings, I launched a survey on my personal blog asking small business owners some very intimate questions about their stat of affairs. I kept it anonymous from the board and staff, aggregated the data and reported it on the record at the board meeting to balance privacy, but get the point across that our neighbors are hurting and very concerned about their future.”
“Of the Helotes businesses I surveyed, only 42% were considered essential after the March 25th, Stay at Home Work Safe Measures were enacted,” Said Matt McCrossen. Matt elaborated on the survey results, “71% reported they reduced staff, 85% reported they had stopped owner draws or salary, applied for SBA assistance, and had not received SBA funds. 71% said they believed they would close business by June of this year. The data show our community small businesses are hurting and need help. It shows the federal government is unresponsive to our community businesses with a cut-off on my survey of April 30th. That said, this program was an easy Aye vote for me as it supports our local businesses in a way that other national programs have not.”
For more information on the Helotes Economic Development Corporation’s Small Business Assistance Program visit helotesedc.com.