PEORIA, Ariz. — Local governments and organizations are working together to try to keep small businesses afloat during the COVID-19 social distancing.

The City of Peoria has partnered with Arizona State University’s Entrepreneurship + Innovation, along with the Small Business Development Center to bring some relief to restaurants and small businesses hit hard while customers are staying home.

“Today we are actually passing out the banners and goody bags that we have put together as part of a task force of all of the community partners that serve small businesses and entrepreneurs out here in Peoria.” Kristin Slice, with Peoria Forward said.

Volunteers targeted more than 150 restaurants and supplied free banners letting customers know which restaurants were open for take-out and delivery service.

“We’re telling everybody to shop local, to go out, to buy from our local restaurants because they really are the cornerstones of our community.” Slice said.

While volunteers hit the streets of Peoria Wednesday and Thursday, Michael Cohen of the Small Business Development Center was busy trying to make sure businesses knew what kind of relief was available to them.

“Our primary objective right now is to connect them with those emergency resources that are available through the small business development center,” Cohen said.  “In particular the Disaster Relief Funds.”

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During times of disaster, such as right now, low-interest loans are available to small business owners.  In most cases, the loans are flexible and do not require payment towards the principal for a year or more.

“There are things like rent and payroll, so that’s roughly what the idea is for them to be able to obtain through the emergency funds,” Cohen said.

Cohen recommends those who are needing help to contact the Small Business Development Center (https://www.maricopa-sbdc.com/), where a counselor can walk business owners through the process and get them relief as quickly as possible.

As Kristin Slice says, “We are going to come out of it on the other side stronger, better and a great community to live in.”