AIKEN, S.C. (WJBF) – Aiken city officials have decided to suspend the public from city council and committee meetings due to the coronavirus. Although, people who have official business at the meetings can attend them. All meetings are lived streamed as well.
“We’re taking public input still. We’re asking if they would email to get in touch with us that way. We can write it to the record. And even more importantly, give us information as we’re making decisions, I mean, information is the key to making a good decision,” said Mayor Rick Osbon.
Mayor Osbon declared a state of emergency for his city on March 15. The declaration was approved unanimously by the city council the following day. City-owned facilities, parks and many businesses in Aiken are closed.
“Everybody’s concerned about the impact on our community and what’s happening to the businesses and employees here in our community and around the nation,” said Economic Development Director Tim O’Briant.
Aiken council members also voted for some local businesses to receive money that are struggling because of the coronavirus pandemic. It’s called the COVID-19 Small Business Recovery Revolving Loan Fund.
Right now, one-million dollars is in the fund and a business can get up to $10,000. For your business to get help, you must employ less than 25 people, have an Aiken business license, and operate a brick and mortar store.
O’Briant said, “The Aiken community tonight responded by making a pool of $1 million in emergency loan guarantees. Each business is vastly different and one onto the next. As we take applications, we will be looking how their businesses operated prior to the COVID-19 crisis and what they’re experiencing now.”
“We had over 50 businesses interested in this in anticipation of us passing this tonight. The beauty of it is it’s two percent interest. Deferred for six months, payment and interest. At that point, you have 24 months to pay it back so hopefully, on the other side we’ll bridge this gap so our small businesses can maintain,” explained Mayor Osbon.
While city-owned properties in Aiken remain closed, officials urge people to pay their bills online to practice social distancing. If you need help with anything someone at City Hall can help you just call 803-642-7654 during business hours.
To see the full Aiken City Council agenda from March 23 and for more information about the small businesses loan, click or tap here.