LEXINGTON, S.C. — The Town of Lexington has announced a loan program to help in-town small businesses get through the coronavirus pandemic.
Stores and restaurants across the Midlands, the state and the country have been forced to close their doors because of COVID-19.
Other restaurants and stores have found a way to make ends meet as the pandemic continues.
Matt Rodgers is the co-founder of Hazelwood Brewing Company in Lexington off of Main Street. They opened their doors in October of 2019.
"We got going for the winter time just doing taproom sales and small level of distribution, but we're just a neighborhood community brewery," said Rodgers.
Since the pandemic started, the brewery has had to change the way they serve customers. They've been selling beer to-go and have an outdoor space available where people can practice social distancing. Staff are also wearing masks.
He says the community support has helped him and his employees through this difficult time.
"It's a lifeline. Some people are barely hanging on," explained Rodgers. "They need all the help they can get and it's really vital for us as a community to get behind our local small businesses because that's the lifeblood of any small community."
Rodgers says this isn't the first time the community has been supportive of local businesses during a difficult situation. Many people came together to help stores and restaurants rebuild after the 2015 floods.
One of the things that's helped small businesses during this time has been receiving loans.
Laurin Barnes with the Town of Lexington says council came up with an idea to help businesses that are hurting.
"Town Council passed an emergency ordinance to provide a $1 million small business loan program for in-town businesses," said Barnes.
The Town of Lexington worked with First Reliance Bank. Businesses will be able to apply for up to $20,000. The loan will also be for a four-year term with a two percent interest rate.
"People who are interested can fill out their information on the town's website and then the town will contact them to let them know if they meet those pre-qualifications and then we'll get them in touch with someone from First Reliance Bank," explained Barnes.
Barnes says it was important for the Town of Lexington to do something to help small businesses during the pandemic.
"Town Council has been working hard to provide relief for residents and businesses and Lexington is just a thriving place. We didn't want this to kind of come to a halt due to the virus," said Barnes. "We just thought it would be important to help our businesses who are here and who are impacted."
Rodgers believes the town providing loans will be a good thing for businesses who really need it to make it through this time.
"It's hard times and nobody wants to have to borrow money but unfortunately sometimes it's something you have to do to survive," said Rodgers. "If it weren't for things like this, a lot of these businesses would be going away."
Rodgers went on to say, "We don't know if we're going to be taking the loan but it's a good option to have and I know there's a lot of people around here that are really, really needing it."
Rodgers says Hazelwood Brewing Company would love to see people come by. They're encouraging people to wear a face mask and they are following protocols given by health officials to have a safe environment for both customers and staff.
To apply for the loan, click here.