Loan deferment program created for Montana businesses

U.S. Census promotion also funded
Tuesday, June 23, 2020

HELENA – Businesses and other entities statewide whose operations were impacted by the coronavirus pandemic can now seek to defer payments on existing loans for up to 12 months as part of a new state program.

Gov. Steve Bullock announced the program June 17. Federal Coronavirus relief funds will be used to provide payments to lenders to cover interest for six- to 12 months, up to 6 percent or $150,000, for approved borrowers.

"Through the Coronavirus Relief Fund, we’ve been able to consider and begin meeting the needs across all sectors of the economy and in all corners of the state," Bullock said. "The funds we’ve distributed have gotten Montanans back to work, stabilized businesses, provided a safety net for individuals, and jumpstarted industries while considering what support should be available to ensure long-term sustainability."

Bullock is directing $125 million to the program, with $25 million specifically dedicated to hotels and restaurants, and the remaining $100 million dedicated to other eligible borrowers.

The dollars could help defer between 5,000 and 10,000 loans and free up capital to bring stability for businesses and other entities in the long term. 

"This program will provide a much needed lifeline to many Montana small businesses to help them recover from the impact of COVID-19 and allow them to get stronger for the future," said Glacier Bancorp CEO Randy Chesler.

"This program will not only provide much needed relief to Montana businesses, it will do so in a way that allows the state’s banks to mitigate risks in the marketplace. Montana’s community banks have stepped up in a big way and will continue to do so through this program in order to help the people of Montana get through this crisis," said Andy West, president of Eagle Bank in Polson.

Borrowers must have experienced a 25 percent reduction in gross revenue due to COVID-19. The borrower must also not have access to 12 months of working capital from any other source and be actively registered with the Secretary of State to do business in Montana. The full eligibility criteria are available at covidrelief.mt.gov.

The program will be jointly administered by the Board of Investments and the Department of Revenue. Borrowers will apply through their existing lender, which will submit the application to the Board of Investments and Revenue for review and payment if approved. Recipients will be listed on the transparency website that is updated weekly.

For businesses seeking access to new capital, the state is developing a program that will assist those with needs for new capital.

Bullock also announced he is allocating $530,000 to the Department of Commerce to promote the Census through Oct. 31, the new deadline for completing the decennial count.

"We know an accurate and complete count of all Montanans is critical for determining the federal funding distributed to the state for education, highways, health care and over 300 other programs," he said. "This funding will support the state over the long term and ensure we do everything we can to get a complete count and our fair share of federal funding over the next decade."

While the federal government is tasked with counting all households every 10 years, the state supports the effort to educate and promote the importance of the Census. The U.S. Census Bureau suspended all field operations from March to early May to slow the spread of COVID-19, which put Montana’s response rate below the national average. An accurate and complete count of all Montanans is critical for determining the federal funding distributed to the state, it shapes local voting districts, and it determines whether Montana will receive a second seat in the U.S. House of Representatives. 

The following programs have been created in under two months using funding through $1.25 billion in federal emergency relief funding through the Coronavirus Aid, Relief, and Economic Security (CARES) Act:

• Montana Meat Processing Infrastructure Grant, Montana Department of Agriculture

• Montana Business Adaptation Program, Montana Department of Natural Resources and Conservation

• Montana Business Stabilization Program, Montana Department of Commerce

• Montana Innovation Grant Program, Governor’s Office of Economic Development

• Montana Food and Agriculture Adaptability Program, Montana Department of Agriculture

• Local Government Reimbursement Program

• Emergency Housing Assistance Program, Montana Department of Commerce

• Public Health Grants, Montana Department of Public Health and Human Services,

• Stay Connected Grants, Montana Department of Public Health and Human Services

• Food Bank and Food Pantry Assistance, Montana Department of Public Health and Human Services

• Social Services Nonprofit Grants, Montana Department of Public Health and Human Services

• Telework Assistance Grants, Montana Department of Public Health and Human Services

More than $30 million has gone to Montanans and Montana businesses impacted by COVID-19. For more information, visit covidrelief.mt.gov.