Kansas hospitality businesses to see HIRE loans converted to grants

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Published: Feb. 23, 2021 at 2:06 PM CST
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TOPEKA, Kan. (WIBW) - Kansas hospitality businesses are getting a financial break after COVID-19 created setbacks for many in 2020.

Governor Laura Kelly says that funding already provided to the state’s hospitality industry through the Hospitality Industry Relief Emergency Fund has been converted from bridge loans to grants.

According to Gov. Kelly, the funds were originally established as a working capital loan program through NetWork Kansas, which will now no longer need to be paid back. She said businesses that have made repayments will be reimbursed.

“There’s nothing more important my administration can do than give Kansas businesses the long-term, continued support they need to not only recover from the pandemic but prosper now and into the future,” Governor Kelly said. “In communities of all sizes, hospitality businesses provide a source of shared space and shared identity. This action allows the loan dollars we delivered at the beginning of the pandemic to no longer need to be paid back, helping businesses maintain operations as we work to recover from the challenges brought about by COVID-19.”

Gov. Kelly said she and Lieutenant Governor and Commerce Secretary David Toland gave the announcement at Jenny Dawn Cellars in Wichita.

“Hospitality businesses like restaurants, bars, lodging facilities, conference centers and event spaces were among the businesses hit hardest by closures, cancellations and social distancing requirements,” Lieutenant Governor and Commerce Secretary Toland said. “Working with our wonderful partners at NetWork Kansas, we moved quickly to roll out a working capital loan program that delivered millions of dollars to hundreds of hospitality businesses in communities statewide. Today, we’re announcing an important step forward in helping these businesses get back on their feet and recover from a very difficult situation.”

According to the Kansas Governor, the HIRE Fund was created in March of 2020 to give immediate relief to Kansas hospitality businesses that experienced revenue losses due to the COVID-19 pandemic. She said in total, $5 million was provided to 344 businesses throughout the state.

“We were happy to play a small role in assisting Governor Kelly and the Department of Commerce during the HIRE fund process,” said Erik Pedersen, Vice President of Entrepreneurship for NetWork Kansas. “NetWork Kansas values and respects all of the hospitality-industry businesses, as well as all other Kansas businesses as they navigate these difficult times.”

Gov. Kelly said all HIRE recipients will get an email with details on the process and timeframes of the conversion. She said the Department of Commerce will alert partners and organizations that are helping with collections to stop all collections and forward all money to NetWork Kansas for reconciliation.

According to Gov. Kelly, businesses can expect the process of receiving repayments and other paperwork to be finished within the next 30 days.

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