By Guy Page
Covid-19 era debt is discouraging Montpelier businesses from taking out SBA loans to recover from massive flood damage, a business group leader told a joint committee of legislators this morning.
“Many people have just not been able to pay off their Covid loans,” Katie Trautz, Executive Director of Montpelier Alive, told the House and Senate economic development committees at the State House this morning. “That has to do with the very slow Covid recovery. They just never got back from where they were. They had just started to recover.”
It’s not that these debt-ridden businesses aren’t eligible for SBA loans, Trautz stressed. Rather, they are leery of doubling-down on indebtedness.
“Many of these businesses are still living off of their Covid loans,” Trautz said “They’re still in debt. If they took out another loan, it would be like buying another house.”
Vermont Daily Chronicle asked Gov. Scott this morning if the State can help businesses struggling with federal loan debt. “That’s a Congressional-level question,” he said.
Other problems the Montpelier businesses face:
Lost inventory – “I know some businesses have lost $100,000 in inventory, some have lost a million in inventory,” Trautz said.
Rental space rehab costs – Many Montpelier commercial and retail buildings need more work than their landlords can afford, Trautz said.
Creeping mold – Businesses, especially restaurants, that aggressively remove mold in order to re-open may need to close weeks or months down the road because adjacent businesses weren’t as diligent. “It’s a problem of public health,” Trautz observed.