“The power we discover inside ourselves as we survive a life-threatening experience can be utilized equally well outside of crisis, too. I am, in every moment, capable of mustering the strength to survive again—or of tapping that strength in other good, productive, healthy ways.” – Michele Rosenthal, Award-winning trauma therapist.
COVID-19 has undoubtedly forced each of us to reexamine our levels of personal and professional preparedness. Namely, how do we, and those around us, react in times of great crisis? During these challenging times, we can, and should, look to those around us – be it our family, our friends, or our community – for support in shouldering our burdens.
The past several weeks have shown Ogden is a community strong enough to not only weather this storm, but to seek out opportunities to support others in spite of their own difficulties or obstacles.
In that spirit of community and support, Ogden City shifted its existing loan programs – namely, the Microenterprise Loan Program (MCLP) and Small Business Loan Program (SBLP) – to better and more immediately support businesses impacted by the COVID-19 pandemic. The newly-formed Emergency Loan Fund (ELF) is one of Ogden City’s primary efforts in responding to COVID-19 and its related economic impacts, and these loans are intended to support companies during a short period of economic hardship.
The ELF was made possible largely through the support of generous Ogden-based businesses to whom we would like to extend our profound and sincere appreciation. These donations have helped businesses of all stripes, from “mom and pop” cafés to community cornerstone restaurants, Ogden-based printing and publishing companies, local dance studios, barber shops, tattoo parlors, nail salons, and other arts-based businesses. To date, 23 companies have either received or are in the process of receiving funds, and seven additional companies have been approved to receive funds.
It should be noted, the businesses who have made donations to the ELF did not ask for, nor expect, any official recognition.
The first donation to the ELF was provided by R&O Construction, with the goal of supporting the most vulnerable businesses in the city. R&O’s generosity acted as a catalyst for contributions from other companies, and these donations prompted Ogden City to establish the ELF and seek additional donations to further assist small businesses.
R&O’s donation was inspired by a situation in which Slade Opheikens, R&O’s president and CEO, found himself. Opheikens said he was touched by an encounter he had at a sandwich shop early on in the pandemic, before dine-in operations had been suspended.
“I asked the gal working how she was doing. She commented ‘they were very slow,’ and I could hear the nervousness in her voice. A few days later, I pulled up to another local restaurant and was greeted by a lady who took my order while she stood under a makeshift easy-up; every business was doing what they could to stay partially open,” Opheikens said. “When I asked her if she would have believed someone if they had told her two months ago, she would be standing on a curb taking orders for such a nice restaurant, she appeared to tear up a little and replied, ‘I’m just glad I have a job.’ I drove away envisioning her as a possible single mom doing what was needed to get by and realized how many people like her are hurting both financially and psychologically because of the unknown.”
Opheikens continued, expressing his gratitude for being able to contribute to other businesses’ survival.
“I wanted to make a donation to the restaurants and small businesses in the Ogden area being impacted, while we in the construction industry are still working and fortunate enough to be considered an ‘essential business,’” Opheikens said. “We didn’t want publicity for this, just to sincerely help the people of this community who have all treated us so well for the last 40 years. I am sure our turn to get hit by this new norm is around the corner, but for now, we can help. We reached out to Mayor Caldwell, and the city has taken it from there. I was proud to see OIDC also volunteer to make a donation to support the small businesses in Ogden; we really are all in this together and proud to be in a position to help.”
Another major donor was the Ogden Industrial Development Corporation (OIDC), which emphasized their donation was part of their long-term commitment to the building of Ogden.
“As a major historical investor in the Ogden Industrial Park, Continental Bakery and the Ogden Business Exchange, we have always taken a proactive role in developing Ogden’s economy,” OIDC said of their donation. “This is an unprecedented time in the history of Ogden; we wanted to participate in keeping Ogden’s most vulnerable companies operating.”
Additional donations have been generously provided by Wadman Corporation, Marketstar, Utah Certified Development Company (Utah CDC), and Goldenwest Credit Union.
Jason Davis, who manages the Ogden Business Information Center (BIC), said Ogden was uniquely situated because of its existing loan programs designed to support local businesses.
“Support has always been the goal of our program. We’ve been focused on helping not only the smaller, family-owned businesses but also some of the larger local businesses recognized as keystones of the community that employ people in the Ogden area,” Davis said. “We didn’t have to create anything new; we just used our existing lending infrastructure and changed the internal processing and underwriting procedures to make things more streamlined. Because of that, we’ve really been able to focus on helping those who haven’t been able to get funding through the PPP (Paycheck Protection Program) or EIDL (Economic Injury Disaster Loan) under the pressure of these critical circumstances. We’ve done a good job so far; we just need to continue to get the word out.
If you’re a business owner still looking for financial assistance, the ELF offers loans up to $10,000, with 0% interest, and up to 12 months of deferred payments. Additionally, funds are now available as part of the Small Business Urgent Need nationwide initiative.
More details about the program are available on the BIC webpage. The ELF application is available in English and in Spanish/en Espanol. Applications should be submitted by e-mail. We encourage businesses to confirm eligibility prior to applying by contacting the Business Information Center (BIC) by phone at (801) 629-8613, or by e-mail.
Ogden City is still accepting contributions of any size to support the ELF. If you would like to make a donation to help us assist local businesses, please contact Ogden City Community and Economic Development by e-mail, or by phone at (801)629-8910.