Harlingen loan program still has funds for local businesses

HARLINGEN — More than 50 local businesses have taken advantage of the HELP for Small Business funds, and more of the zero-interest loans remain on the table.

The Harlingen Economic Development Corp. initiated the program with $1 million to offer the loans to a maximum of $10,000.

To date, around $500,000 has gone out to businesses since May 1, and HEDC officials are urging any local businesses suffering from the fallout from the COVID-19 pandemic to apply.

“We’re trying to pick up where the federal government left off for Harlingen businesses,” said Eric Ziehe, chair of the HEDC board.

“We really want to see them succeed — we want to see all businesses in Harlingen succeed,” he added.

Even if businesses already have received funding from sources like the Paycheck Protection Program or an economic injury disaster loan, it doesn’t disqualify business owners from obtaining the HELP funds if they continue to show a financial need.

“This is like a security, even if you don’t use it right away, this is yours to use,” said Desiree Gonzalez, owner of Desiree’s Spa and Massage. “It’s going to help keep us afloat and will help give my staff a consistent paycheck.”

Gonzalez said since her business is mainly performed on close contact with customers, she has used the funds to purchase personal protective equipment.

“This will really help and give some relief and some peace for a while so we can survive, so our business can survive,” she added. “I love this community and thank you for this opportunity.”