The MRC du Haut-Saint-Laurent has played an important role in helping several businesses affected by the pandemic since the Montérégie region became a red zone last October. Many businesses in the Haut-Saint-Laurent region were partially or completely closed and a number of them turned to the Emergency Assistance to Small and Medium-Sized Enterprises (PAUPME) program, and the Assistance for businesses in regions on maximum alert (AERAM) component, to offset critical expenses in terms of fixed monthly costs.
Out of an overall envelope of $668,605, the MRC distributed $515,992 in loans between ten local businesses.
The program, which ended on May 31, was established by the Quebec Ministry of Economy and Innovation to enhance federal assistance programs introduced in March 2020, at the very start of the public health crisis. The initiative was hailed as a success across the province; by helping businesses targeted by a closure order (restaurants, bars, microbreweries, spas, etc.) with financial needs of $50,000 or less to stay in business.
Eligible businesses were able to access loans with a three per cent interest rate and a forgivable portion, while benefiting from a three-month moratorium on interest and principal, and an additional three months on principal only.
“Thanks to the exceptional government measures offered to businesses in the context of the COVID-19 pandemic, the MRC du Haut-Saint-Laurent was able to support ten SMEs hard hit by the crisis by offering access to the financial assistance they needed to survive,” says Louise Lebrun, the prefect of the MRC du Haut-Saint-Laurent.
“The council of mayors is proud to have contributed to the maintenance of Haut-Saint-Laurent businesses through the provision of loans or loan forgiveness,” adds Lebrun. “As we reopen, we encourage all citizens of the Haut-Saint-Laurent to support our local businesses.”
Hopefully, with the gradual resumption of activities – the Montérégie is now a yellow zone – the economic recovery will allow affected businesses to return to a semblance of normality for the summer season. (SR)