CHATTANOOGA, Tenn. (WDEF) – It wasn’t your typical Chattanooga City Council meeting on Tuesday.
Council members have been broadcasting their meetings on Zoom, but as members navigate virtual meetings they’re taking a different approach on how they interact with the public.
Last week, things didn’t go quite as well.
The Zoom gathering was disrupted with racial slurs popping up in the council members’ chats.
So, council members have disabled chat.
They’ve also added online a place where people who want to talk during the meeting’s public comments time must register.
“It actually provides a form so that that person will be available to be recognized by the host during the meeting on here,” City Attorney Phillip Noblett said.
While council members turn digital during the coronavirus pandemic, they’ve been able to get some important stuff done.
According to the city, the fund will provide the following for locally owned small businesses:
- COVID-19 Mitigation Grants, which are $5,000 grants available to small businesses renting their spaces to help with things like expenses, rent or payroll assistance.
- COVID-19 Bridge Loans, which are loans of $10,000, $15,000 or $25,000 that are designed to help small businesses, specifically those directly impacted by state and local executive orders, with employee retention and working capital.
- COVID-19 HUD 108 Loans, which are loans greater than $25,000 that helps businesses in low-income census tracts or incentivizes business owners to hire and retain employees whose area median income is at or below 80 percent.
“Our hope in creating a three phase program was to provide some relief and assistance to small businesses as they start to make application for some of the programs that will be offered through the Federal government in form of SBA lending or the paycheck protection program,” Chattanooga Economic Development Officer Jermaine Freeman said.
Council members voted and unanimously gave their first approval to appropriate $500,000
that will go to the fund.
“It’s interesting to see banks here locally that are telling people, and I can speak from personal experience as a small business owner, uh sorry, but you’re wasting your time and this is serious and I applaud this council and this administration for reaching out and taking care of our own,” City Council Member Darrin Ledford said.
Council members also agreed to meet on Wednesday at 10 a.m. to give a final vote on the funds.
If approved on Wednesday, officials said that applications might be available for businesses as soon as Thursday or Monday at the latest.