El Paso Business Strong Program

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The El Paso Business Strong Program is a collaboration between El Paso County and LiftFund for $1.75 million in capital through a forgivable loan program. 

The program product is a forgivable loan up to $50,000 at zero percent interest rate with goals to reach forgiveness.

On January 5, 2021, the County of El Paso will make aid to small businesses located in El Paso County which have been negatively impacted by COVID-19 through its Financial Assistance for Safety, Technology and Economic Resilience (FASTER) program. This assistance is available in several forms, including grants, loans, and technical assistance. LiftFund will administer $1.75 million in a loan forgiveness program.

Business Qualifications

Non-Profit organizations and businesses located in El Paso County that can demonstrate a negative impact due to COVID-19 and who have implemented a health and safety policy pursuant to County Judge’s Orders.  We strongly encourage your business to take the Pledge to Safety.

Qualifications:

  • Located in El Paso County
  • Sole proprietorship, partnerships, corporations, or any other legal form of business
  • Must have an employer identification number (EIN) 
  • Have been in existence on or before January 1, 2020 
  • Have no more than 30 full-time equivalent employees
  • Not currently in bankruptcy
  • Have developed and implemented Health and Safety Policy pursuant to County Judge Orders: 
  • Franchises (locally owned and independently operated, only one storefront per franchisee)

Qualifying Conditions:

  • Business must have been in operations prior to January 1, 2020
  • Borrower must have enough resources to properly cover the expenses should forgiveness not be applied.
  • Business and Business Owner must have the capacity to service this new debt.

Assessment and Forgiveness Options:

During the packaging process the applicant will commit and determine their level of forgiveness. 

Loan Amount: Up to $50,000

Cost: 2.5% commitment Fee

Interest Rate: 0%

Term: Varies on Size of Loan and Forgiveness Program Options

Deferment of Payment: 180 days, or estimated project completion plus 60 days for larger projects in coordination with the County

Loan Packaging Documents:

  • Three most recent Personal and Business Bank Statements. (or Plaid Account Transaction History for the last 90 days)  
  • Proof of any other declared household income not verified via bank statements.   
  • If business is not back to normal operations, LiftFund will also require the last three months of bank statements prior to the disaster 
  • The 2019 Business Tax Return. If the 2019 tax return is not a good reflection of the regular business operations (reporting losses or excessive deductions due to the disaster), LiftFund will also need the 2018 Business Tax Return.
  • If documentation does not validate capacity additional documents will be requested per LF guidelines. 

Eligible Expenditures:

Businesses may apply for the following expenses associated with re-starting business operations: payroll, lease/mortgage, supplies, inventory, utility, etc., compliance to meet Pledge to Safety Standards. 

How to apply:

Applications must be submitted online starting January 5, 2021 at 9:00 AM MT and will close when funds are exhausted. Applications submitted will be packaged on a first come first serve basis with a priority of Tier 1 and Tier 2 designation by El Paso County. 

Applicants will create an account to apply online. This will allow users to save progress on their applications should they need additional time to fill out the application. 

Please make sure to keep a note of your user name and password. Click the link below to begin your application

Tier 1 and Tier 2 Definition by El Paso County:

Tier I: Businesses located outside of the City of El Paso and within El Paso County.

Tier II: Businesses located within El Paso city limits.

Any remaining Tier I funds will be made available to any business located within El Paso County, including businesses located within El Paso city limits after March 5, 2021.

Loan Forgiveness Program:

All businesses receiving a grant will be required to complete a follow-up survey after the grant is awarded for documentation and impact purposes. Grant recipients must also keep detailed records of 2020-2021 reopening dates, receipts for expenditure of grant funds, and staff and payroll records for review which the El Paso County and LiftFund would be able to access.

Forgiveness Process:

  • If 2 items are met on the forgiveness criteria: 25% will be forgiven of loan
  • If 3 items are met on the forgiveness criteria: 50% will be forgiven of loan 
  • If 4+ items are met on the forgiveness criteria: 100% will be forgiven of loan

Forgiveness tracking begins at the beginning of the application period. A customer will decide which options of the forgiveness programming elements they will apply to their funding. The timeline for forgiveness will be coordinated between the County and LiftFund to ensure the business owner has enough time to meet the requirements.

Business Forgiveness Options

Forgiveness Options (Select those that would apply) Business Requirement
Non-essential business voluntarily reduced capacity below guidelines and directives issued by health authority, Texas Governor or County Judge by 25 percent Proof in coordination with the County
Businesses who provide employees with a living wage of $12.50/hour Proof using employee salary reports including 941
Businesses seeking to install new equipment that promotes public health and safety for employees and patrons, including: o Drive Thru/Walkup Service Window o Plexiglass or other clear shields at strategic locations o HELP Air Filtration, Bi-Polar Ionization, UV Light Purification o Other specialized equipment that limits the spread of contagion via anti-microbial or anti-septic technology/design (e.g. antimicrobial mats, touchless door entry, automatic flush toilets, motion sensor faucets, motion sensor light fixtures ) Proof of utilization and validation with the County
Business constructs open or semi-open facilities to move operations involving interaction with customers away from indoor facilities Proof of expenses and project scope with County validation.
Business invests in technological solutions that: o Allows of employees to work from home for120 days o Increases digital sales Proof of expenses and proven increases in revenue by business.
Businesses replace current POS system with one that allows for touchless payments Proof of expenses and utilization in POS.
Participate in business coaching program/curriculum Proof of coaching by business owner and partner.
Other proposals focused on promotion of public health and safety (for employees and/or consumers) or promote business sustainability and resiliency. Business submits concept and idea for implementation and it is approved by County to proceed.

Forgiveness Process:

  • Age restricted businesses
  • Bank, savings and loan or credit union
  • E-commerce based only businesses
  • Political or lobbying organizations
  • Real Estate investment trusts (primary income from rental/income producing properties)
  • Businesses who have received more than $50,000 of Paycheck Protection Program (PPP) assistance shall only receive funding for any unmet need more than their PPP allotment. Employees of El Paso County
  • Persons/entities who are a party to a lawsuit against the County within the past 24 months
  • Persons/entities who have been a party to a contract with El Paso County that has been terminated in the past 24months because of insufficient performance. 
  • Persons/entities that have received a citation for failure to comply with health directives or orders issued by the Texas Governor or El Paso County Judge, City of El Paso Mayor or Texas Governor.