PIERRE, S.D. (KELO) — South Dakota employers with loans from a state job-creation program will get three months without having to make payments or interest if they’ve been hurt financially by the coronavirus COVID-19.
The state Board of Economic Development agreed to that change Thursday.
A business would need to send a letter to the Governor’s Office of Economic Development. Commissioner Steve Westra would then decide.
He also could later grant a business another three months of paying only interest. Any business needing more time would have a request made to the state board.
Westra explained the concept.
“Obviously we are in an interesting time in our lives,” he said, noting the coronavirus crisis wasn’t in anyone’s playbook.
Westra said borrowers from the state Revolving Economic Development and Initiative fund have made it “very clear” their businesses have been affected or will be affected by COVID-19.
“Many have requested payment modifications and we expect many more coming into GOED in the coming weeks,” Westra said.
Cassie Stoeser, the office’s finance director, said the new process would save time for the borrowers and for the board. She said normally each borrower’s request would be taken to the board.
Chairman Jeff Erickson of Sioux Falls said someone who’s historically been a slow payer wouldn’t receive the leeway.
“Very unique times,” Erickson observed.
He said the 41 positive cases of coronavirus found in South Dakota through Wednesday were similar to what California has seen as a percentage of each state’s population.
“This is real,” Erickson said. He mentioned the case of state lawmaker Bob Glanzer from Huron, who’s now in a Sioux Falls hospital with the potentially deadly respiratory illness.
Just coughing or breathing can spread COVID-19 person to person. There is no vaccine.
“The best we can do is stay away from each other and use these darn phones and devices,” Erickson said.