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West Palm Beach announces new program to help small businesses during economic downturn

'Recovery Assistance Program' allows for $5K-$10K loans
West Palm Beach Mayor Keith James
Posted at 10:32 AM, Apr 03, 2020
and last updated 2020-04-03 18:51:24-04

WEST PALM BEACH, Fla. — The city of West Palm Beach held a meeting Friday morning to discuss the last developments in the fight against the coronavirus.

“I believe that this will likely get worse before it gets better,” said Mayor Keith James. “We all must do our part. Together we can save lives.”

MORE: Latest news on the coronavirus

James said the new coronavirus testing site at the FITTEAM Ballpark of The Palm Beaches, which began Tuesday, is going smoothly but was concerned about the sustainability of the testing site due to "dwindling" supplies.

"I certainly hope that the state and federal authorities will get us more testing kits down here," said the mayor.

The mayor also announced the creation of the "City of West Palm Beach Recovery Assistance Program," formed in partnership with Valley National Community Bank and the Urban League of Palm Beach County.

The program makes available to West Palm Beach businesses short-term loans between $5,000 to $10,000 with minimal interest rates and generous repayment periods.

NEWS CONFERENCE: West Palm Beach Mayor Keith James holds coronavirus news conference (16 minutes)

Secondly, James announced a new program called "WPB Together," a partnership between the city and the Community Foundation for Palm Beach and Martin Counties. The new fund is a way for the private sector to raise funds to help various non-profit organizations to address the needs of the public caused by coronavirus.

The "Coronavirus Aid, Relief and Economic Security Act," also allocates $350 billion to help small businesses keep workers employed amid the pandemic and economic downturn.

Through the CARES Act, the Paycheck Protection Program provides 100 percent federally guaranteed loans to small businesses.

The loans may be forgiven if borrowers maintain their payrolls during or restore their payrolls afterward.

James reiterated the governor's new 30-day "state at home" order which says "all persons in Florida shall limit their movements and personal interactions outside of their home to only those necessary to obtain or provide essential services or conduct essential activities."

"With rare exception, I think the residents of our city are being compliant [with the governor's new order]," said James.

The mayor said he is a man of faith but would not endorse anyone to go to a house of worship at this time, even though it is allowed under the "essential services" order the governor issued this week.

"I would not encourage anyone to go to any services ... the risk is simply too great," said James. "I would hope that folks would use common sense and good judgement and avoid any congregations of large crowds."

On March 16, the city of West Palm Beach declared a state of emergency in response to the coronavirus.

West Palm Beach Mayor Keith James said last month that field hospitals may be needed in the city as the coronavirus pandemic continues to put pressure on our local health care facilities.