The Ottawa Area Chamber of Commerce, Ottawa Main Street Association, Franklin County Development Council and the city of Ottawa jointly announced there are local funds available for area businesses experiencing financial hardships associated with the COVID-19 pandemic outbreak.


"It is important to do all we can to prop up our local economy," said Ottawa city manager Richard Nienstedt. "We need to get these dollars to our local businesses where they can be put to use to help struggling businesses."


The available dollars are in three different funds. The Community Block Development Grant fund, usually restricted by stringent state restrictions, has been made available at greatly reduced requirements. American Eagle Outfitters, one of the community’s largest employers, additionally established a local foundation for dollars to be used by local businesses in the community. And Ottawa Main Street Association is reducing the restrictions on its IWW loans to get the money into Main Street businesses.


The funding amounts and terms vary on each of these different revenue streams but are not conventional borrowing. These funds are local and meant to infuse dollars into the local economy and to provide financial assistance to local businesses stressed from closures due to the COVID-19 pandemic. The committee established for evaluating loan requests has flexibility to take into consideration varying circumstances on each application.


"Many of our local businesses have been stressed to the breaking point ... these funds will be partially interest free for a period of time and very low interest following a free-period in order to encourage local businesses to use these dollars," said John Coen, president and CEO of the Ottawa Area Chamber of Commerce.


"I am very appreciative one of our local and largest employers stepping up to provide local relief," said Paul Bean, director of the Franklin County Development Council. "We will all make it to the other side of this crisis by everyone working together."


Mary Raley, president of the Ottawa Main Street Association, said "downtown businesses are the backbone of this community."


"Our businesses on Main Street need these dollars now to insure the vibrancy of the Ottawa Main Street returns," she said. "Ottawa Main Street Association is happy to make the IWW (Investments Without Walls) funds available to help downtown businesses."


All of these loans are available to local business and nonprofits. Applications for the loans are available at www.ottawaks.gov or by calling 785-229-3620. For applications for the Ottawa Main Street Association’s IWW funds, email Mary Raley at ottawamainst@gmail.com.


All applications should be turned in to the Community Development Department at the city of Ottawa or emailed to communitydevelopment@ottawaks.gov. For more information or for applications, contact the city’s Community Development Department at 785-229-3620 or email communitydevelopment@ottawaks.gov.