SIDNEY — The City of Sidney has earmarked $150,000 in LB 840 funding to assist small businesses in the community impacted by the coronavirus pandemic.
Small businesses are allowed to apply for a $5,000 forgivable loan or grant and also a $5,000 low-interest loan. Businesses could potentially qualify for one, the other or both. Sidney’s LB 840 program is targeted to job retention and growth, which allowed it to offer the program.
In the initial round, the city appropriated $100,000, of which $90,000 has been allocated by the economic development committee, which encompasses both Sidney and Cheyenne counties. There were more applications received, so the city council has approved an additional $50,000 in funding for a second round of applications.
“Basically, there is a list of criteria that needs to be followed,” mayor Roger Gallaway said. “This was developed by the committee. One, to be in sync with our original LB 840 plan, but additionally they said the criteria they established was that it had to be a business that had at least two employees, so for the most part, sole proprietors were left out. It did not include landlords, apartments, things of that nature.”
Gallaway said the committee does go through financial documents of each applicant.
“They’re obviously probably not as inclined to provide support for a company or business that was struggling before the pandemic,” he said.
The application process has seen requests from a variety of businesses.
“Probably the one sticking point has been hair salons,” Gallaway said, “because for the most part hair salons, the beauticians within each salon typically pay a booth rent. They are not considered employees of that salon. They’re all independent contractors, independent operators. As such, the salon doesn’t have wages to show for them, and they’re not considered employees, so that’s been a point of contention since, obviously, during the shutdown that was a group within the community that was probably affected the most.”
Gallaway said the city’s attorneys believe Sidney would have to restructure it’s LB 840 program plan language to accommodate that group of businesses.