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Mayor announces financial relief for small businesses, COVID-19 testing for southwest Little Rock

Little Rock residents are reacting to two big announcements the city made Wednesday.

LITTLE ROCK, Ark. — Little Rock residents are reacting to two big announcements the city made Wednesday, April 29. One will bring financial relief for small business impacted by COVID-19, and another will provide COVID-19 testing in under served parts of town.

"Obviously there's been a big decrease in business,” said Cameron Ivey, general manager of All Aboard restaurant.

Hundreds of Little Rock businesses are struggling to stay open. 

Ivey Manages All Aboard which is an entertainment eatery for families. Because the restaurant isn't designed for curbside orders, business there has dwindled down to very little.

“Get out there and support local businesses all of us need it,” said Ivey. “We are still open.”

Mayor Frank Scott Jr. announced the new Small Business Emergency Assistance Program on Wednesday. It's made up of $500,000 to assist Little Rock small businesses.

Each struggling business can apply for a zero-interest loan for up to $5,000. After 1 year, if jobs are created, retained, or restored, the loan is forgiven.

Ivey said every little bit counts at this point.

"It helps tremendously,” said Ivey. “Even just an order coming in helps us so much.”

For Southwest Little Rock, the city has partnered with UAMS to provide a mobile COVID-19 testing site there.

“We understand the individuals in our area are the underserved and we feel like a lot of times we are the last ones to be thought about,” said Donita Waller-Paige, pastor of Geyer Springs United Methodist Church and Saint Andrew United Methodist Church.

Through Waller-Paige’s ministry, she often serves families in need.

She said this is huge for her community because so many people don't have the means to travel.

"I'm sure this service will be utilized well,” said Waller-Paige.

The Southwest Little Rock Mobile COVID-19 testing site's scheduled for Saturday, May 2 at the Southwest Community Center from 10 a.m. to 2 p.m.  

"To know now we will be able to go and access that help, it is amazing,” said Waller-Paige.

The city's also launching a Reusable Mask Distribution program. It begins Friday, May 8 at several Kroger locations including the stores on Baseline, Roosevelt, Main Street, and Geyer Springs Road.

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