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Millbrook, Mayor Get Creative Managing Coronavirus Shutdowns in Effort to Help Small Businesses

By Art Parker, Montgomery Independent

One definition of corona is something suggesting a crown. The City of Millbrook deserves a crown of its own with its creativity for helping its businesses.

The coronavirus has hit the nation hard and not just in the bodies of citizens. It has been a near death blow to many small businesses as well. The little guy in the little town is the most vulnerable and the City of Millbrook has found a unique way to help its small businesses.

Millbrook Mayor Al Kelley announced that the city will pay interest on loans made by Millbrook businesses to get through the coronavirus crisis. “Our folks are hurting. I’ve been racking my brain trying to come up with something to help our businesses,” Kelley said. “I’m a small business owner myself and I know what it means to face adversity and try to keep the doors open.”

Kelley, who is in his sixth term as Mayor, has seen Millbrook gradually grow with people and small businesses for many years. The city has grown on solid ground with an expanding tax base, which is a major reason Millbrook has been in good financial condition for so long. Millbrook has always been diligent, cautious and successful with its incentive packages for new businesses to come to the city. Kelley said the idea was to help the businesses that helped build that tax base during the difficult period instead of recruiting new business. “Those businesses have been the tax base and city leaders want to help anyway they can. First Community Bank and River Bank that have shown great interest in the plan. We hope to have other lenders on board as well. If we can make this happen we will strengthen a successful partnership we’ve had with our business community and the entire community will benefit,” Kelley said. “It is demoralizing and devastating for a community to see a business go under. We are going as fast as we can to finalize details.”

The mayor also said the City’s legal counsel has approved the action.

Basically the City of Millbrook will pay the interest on business loans made by local businesses to survive the negative economic impact of the coronavirus. There are conditions to be met by the borrower of course. “Naturally the business must have a license and be up to date with its tax payments, and the borrower must be approved by the lender,” Kelley explained.

The amount of the loan upon which the city will pay interest is yet to be determined, nor has terms of loans been established. There will also be a limit on the amount of the loan. Kelley wants it to be clear that the city was not making loans or giving away money. “We are not conducting a big bailout-not lending money. We are not in the lending business. We want to help our businesses stay open and this is a good way to do that,” Kelley said.