5518 Designs

BUTTE-Across Montana, businesses are facing an incredible loss of revenue due to the impact of closures to help prevent the spread of the coronavirus.

In Butte, many businesses are reporting they many not survive the next few weeks without some assistance.

On Wednesday, the Butte Council of Commissioners approved a special loan program to help get money into the hands of small businesses as soon as possible during these though times.

Business is tough, and on a typical Thursday afternoon 5518 Designs is bustling with customers getting some new apparel for the weekend, but this Thursday that wasn't the case.

"Thursday afternoons we probably make 10 to 20 transactions in the afternoons and today you’re looking at an empty store," said owner, Jon Wick.

On Thursday, Wick was left packaging the few online orders he had this week. The brick-and-mortar store is closed and they shifted to online only last week. Wick says they've updated their website and inventory and tried to get creative with flash sales and their social media, but for now it's not cutting it.

"We've probably lost 80 percent on average of our daily transactions and we are just are trying to find some cash flow somewhere," said Wick.

After the loss of St. Patrick's Day and thousands of dollars in extra merchandise, businesses like 5518 are left wondering about the future. Many businesses reported in a survey for the Butte Local Development Corp., that they could only stay afloat for a few more months with how things are going.

Business owners say a loan program from the county is exciting news.

"These dollars will be utilized to develop a new loan program for businesses that have been most impacted by this very unfortunate emergency situation," said Executive Director of the BLDC Joe Willauer.

The county will use $200,000 that was set aside in an Anaconda/Atlantic Richfield Company loan fund to provide up to $10,000 to businesses in need.

The loans would be interest free for the first six months and then after that be two percent. Willauer adds they hope to have the money in the hands of small businesses by next week.

Small businesses that qualify can apply for the loan program online or with a paper document. A link for the applications can be found on the BLDC's website.

The loan application process opened on Thursday at noon and businesses have until Monday, March 30 at 5 p.m. to apply. Applications will then be reviewed by the BLDC.