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9 things you should know about the city, VyStar loan program

Mayor Curry and VyStar CEO offer 9 takeaways from the COVID-19 economic crisis.

JACKSONVILLE, Fla. — A webinar hosted by the Jacksonville Chamber of Commerce Thursday morning addressed questions about the joint City of Jacksonville and VyStar Credit Union small business loan program. Chamber President Daniel Davis hosted the meeting, and Mayor Lenny Curry and VyStar President and CEO Brian Wolfburg answered questions. Here are 9 takeaways:

What does the small business loan include?

Once approved, the applicant receives an instant cash grant of $1,000 from the city that does not need to be repaid. The loan amount ceiling is $100,000. There are no principal payments the first year and the interest that accrues is paid by the city. 

In years 2 to 6, which is the 5-year prepayment period of the loan, the small business is eligible for city assistance in payment of both interest and principal as long as the same number of employees are retained. You can pay it off at any point and there is no prepayment penalty. No collateral is required.

Do you have to be VyStar member?

No, but you do have to be a business that has been operating for at least 1 year, have filed a tax return and have between two and 100 employees

However, Brian Wolfburg noted there are other options for people to obtain financial help. Links on the website include zero percent $15,000 personal emergency loans for individuals, and loan forbearance for existing loan customers.

How many loans are being processed?  

VyStar has received 500 loan applications since the program was approved Monday by the city council. VyStar is able to process 75 applications a day. Most people are seeking the full $100,000, so there are already $50 million worth of loan applications. CEO and President Brian Woofburg says “it will be impactful” on the city’s economic health.

Can nonprofit faith-based business apply? 

Yes, “We don’t want to see the good people that work for our nonprofits have a gap in pay either,” Daniel Davis said. “The nonprofit employee money spends just like a regular for-profit business and we can’t let them fall behind.”

Why is the city-sponsored stimulus program needed?

 Mayor Lenny Curry: “Some question government stimulus intervention. To be very clear. The government caused it. It had to, but this economic disaster is government-induced because what had to be done at the national, state and local levels. So it’s our responsibility in government to partner with those in the free market like VyStar to make sure we help people get back no their feet.”

Can you apply for both the federal Paycheck Protection Program (PPE) loan through the Small Business Administration and the city & VyStar loan program? 

Yes, “We’ve got about 500 loans on both sides. And some individuals are in both of those pools,” Brian Wolfburg said.

How are people reacting to the current crisis? 

Mayor Lenny Curry said, “By and large the public gets this. They are behaving responsibly. They’re not angry. They are felling economic hardship, but they understand that this is our moment. And I’m not overstating it. As a generation, this is our moment for a number of reasons. To keep people from dying right now but tom come out of this so that … all of the people we care about aren’t dealing with this in 20 years.”

How might the COVID-19 crisis affect city functions going forward?  

Mayor Lenny Curry said, “My immediate focus when we come out of this is we take the steps necessary .. to keep some sense of normalcy and get people back on their feet. When the President’s ready to reopen the economy we, are now working on very specific things the city can do to make it easier on businesses. Whether it be construction, developers, anything we can do from a regulatory standpoint or a fee standpoint we are looking to make sure when we open we are open for business.”

Daniel Davis added, “That’s very welcome news. … This could be an opportunity for us to take and make streamlined opportunities -- keep everybody safe with building sciences and development, making sure we protect the environment -- but can we speed up the process? Maybe we can take advantage of that and come out of this better.”

How large of a loan should you apply for?

Brian Wolfburg said, “There’s a lot of people in need, and there’s a lot of people applying at the same time. So just manage what you’re going to apply for and pursue and take out, as to whether your organization needs it, because there’s someone else in line behind you, in queue behind you who also may need it. I would make a reasonable decision of applying for what you need and in as many places as you need, but being conscious of not overwhelming the system. Don’t go overboard because there are other people in need.”

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