KANSAS CITY, Mo. — The state of Kansas will forgive $5 million in loans awarded early in the COVID-19 pandemic for small businesses.
Speaking at a Wichita winery on Tuesday, Gov. Laura Kelly said that all loans provided to 344 Kansas businesses through the Hospitality Industry Relief Emergency (HIRE) fund will be forgiven and converted into grants.
Businesses that had already made payments on the loans will be reimbursed, according to Kelly, and those relief dollars will become permanent.
The state announced the HIRE fund last March, awarding funds to nearly 350 Kansas businesses in the hospitality industry for help with payroll, utility bills and lease payments.
In the Kansas City area, 136 businesses received approximately $2 million, according to the state. The program awarded loans up to $20,000.
It was administered by the Kansas Department of Commerce and NetWork Kansas, a nonprofit with a system of small business loan underwriters across 64 Kansas counties.