Economic Recovery Task Force offers support for Missoula businesses

(KPAX) Comprised of 17 different public and private for and nonprofit entities, the Missoula County Economic Recovery Task Force is making sure Missoula businesses not only recover from the COVID-19 pandemic, but prosper once it’s finally over.

CEO of Missoula Economic Partnership Grant Kier has played a key role in organizing the task force. He said their goal is to understand how community members are being affected economically.

They hope to improve access to the resources that are coming out of Congress, the state and other support entities, and they plan to spread awareness of the resources that are still under development for folks that are coming down the pike.

“We really encourage them to take a deep breath, and be assured that there is help here, there’s a community ready to support them, and just be confident that we’re gonna get through this,” said Kier.

The task force has developed a four-step framework to help local businesses navigate these unprecedented times, and they’ve also called on the University of Montana to lend a hand.

Together, they’ve implemented the Business Emergency Assistance and Recovery Initiative, or what they’re calling the BEAR program.

“The BEAR program is organizing navigators right now that can help advise small businesses that don’t already have established professional support that can help them navigate this process and the benefits and resources and relief coming out of the CARES Act,” said Kier.

Between all of these resources – the Paycheck Protection Program, what the SBA is releasing through its economic injury disaster loans and more – Kier is confident business owners will make it through.

“We had banks putting cash into business owners’ hands on Sunday afternoon, based on SBA loan approval,” said Kier, “By the close of business on Monday, Missoula banks alone had submitted over 1,100 applications on behalf of our community businesses, totaling almost $200 million.”