City agency awards another $75,000 in loans to suffering businesses

HARLINGEN — The Harlingen Economic Development Corp. has issued another tranche of zero-interest loans totaling $75,000 to aid local small businesses hurt by the coronavirus shutdowns.

The most recent funds will be disbursed to seven qualifying businesses in amounts ranging from $5,000 to the maximum $10,000, the HEDC said.

This round of funding for businesses suffering losses connected with COVID-19 is the fourth round of loans issued to HELP for Small Business recipients.

Raudel Garza, CEO of the city’s economic development agency, said the loan program will continue until the HEDC’s allotment of $1 million is reached.

The program launched May 1 and since then 35 small businesses have been approved for loans. The amount of loans to be disbursed now stands at $328,500, but additional businesses can still apply for until the $1 million mark is reached.

“The HEDC and the city started this program to reach those in need, and we are doing that,” Garza said. “This program is also helping us connect better with the small businesses here. Many of them are understanding the resources available to them through the HEDC.”

The HEDC board recently made changes to the application process which should open up the loans to more small businesses in Harlingen.

Among those changes, the board approved increasing the maximum number of employees a qualifying business can employ from 25 to 50, and also allowing a business demonstrating a loss of 10 percent in revenues during the pandemic comparted to the same period a year ago.

Having received federal funds from programs the Paycheck Protection Program or an Economic Injury Disaster Loan does not disqualify a local business from also receiving one of the HEDC’s zero-interest loans if they still show financial need.

“Our purpose is to get J&V’s back on its feet by getting caught up on our bills, start re-ordering merchandise from our companies, (and) getting our employees back to work their regular hours,” said Viola Garza, owner of J&V’s Toys, Games, and More, located at 1005 W. Harrison Ave.

“We applied to so many different programs and didn’t hear from anyone, yet it was our beloved Harlingen that answered our prayers,” she added.