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Business Buzz: Housing committee, Flying Squirrel details, Clyde moves
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Business Buzz: Housing committee, Flying Squirrel details, Clyde moves

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Here's some business news in the Missoula area:

Clyde Coffee, a coffee shop on the Hip Strip in Missoula on Higgins Avenue, is moving. The current location is at 610 S. Higgins. Owner Glenda Bradshaw wrote on Higgins that while she's not revealing the new location, they'll be able to roast their own coffee there.

"New space rocks...and you can sit outside in the patio area and watch the world go by," she wrote.

In anticipation of a new round of Paycheck Protection Program assistance rolling out the week of Jan. 11, the U.S. Small Business Administration has taken steps to ensure these relief loans get into the hands business owners who were unable to access a PPP loan in 2020. The SBA announced today that it will grant exclusive, early access to first-time PPP borrowers starting Monday, Jan. 11, through community development institutions like MoFi. The program will open to second-time PPP applicants on Wednesday, Jan. 13. 

An end-of-year emergency relief package from the federal government includes $284 billion for the Small Business Administration’s Paycheck Protection Program, extending it through March 31 and making what some say are improvements to the original loan program.

With this program, MoFi is looking to support businesses not served by traditional banks or credit unions, including sole proprietors, independent contractors and those in need of less than $50,000. In addition to helping first-time PPP applicants, MoFi is also hoping to help businesses owned by, located in or serving low-income communities and people of color. In the initial round of assistance last year, MoFi provided nearly 1,300 PPP loans to businesses in Montana, Idaho, Oregon, Washington and Wyoming, with an average loan size of $26,000. 

“The re-launch of PPP will provide much-needed relief for businesses across our region as they continue to endure economic hardships related to COVID-19,” said Dave Glaser, President of MoFi. “We’re grateful to be a part of the solution, and we’re prepared and committed to reach deep into our communities to find those who might not otherwise have access to the program."

MoFi encourages interested business owners to get in touch as soon as possible. Applications are being accepted on a first-come, first-served basis. To apply for a PPP loan through MoFi, businesses must be located in Montana, Idaho, Wyoming, Oregon or Washington. Application instructions can be found on MoFi’s website at mofi.org/paycheck-protection-program-loan/.

The City of Missoula is recruiting members for the Affordable Housing Oversight Committee.

"The Oversight Committee is an important component of the Affordable Housing Trust Fund, adopted by the City Council on July 20, 2020," said city communications director Ginny Merriam. "The committee will create funding policies and priorities to affect affordable housing development for years to come. The Affordable Housing Trust Fund is an ongoing funding source to meet affordable housing needs and community goals."

People wishing to be on the committee can apply until Feb. 10 at 5 p.m. by visiting ci.missoula.mt.us/2738/Affordable-Housing-Committee.

The committee will approve the administrative policies and the annual Allocation Plan for the trust fund. They will not make funding decisions for every project supported by the trust fund. There will be 11 total members, with nine voting members and two alternates. For questions call Emily Harris-Shears at 406-552-6394.

The owners of Flying Squirrel, an indoor trampoline park in Missoula, have provided details on the sudden closure of the business in January.

Luke Schueler, the co-owner and co-founder of Flying Squirrel Sports along with his brother Cody, emailed the Missoulian to explain the situation.

"As a result of the pandemic, Flying Squirrel has seen a dramatic decrease in park admissions at the Missoula location," he said. "While admissions lagged, the management team sought to negotiate with the California-based landlord of the property. Despite numerous overtures and attempts to find amicable resolution, Flying Squirrel was unable to secure reasonable accommodations to ensure the company could remain in business."

He said they're unable to pay the outstanding rent and the "California-based landlord", which is Kalsun 1 LLC out of Arcadia, California according to property tax records, has declined to provide any relief.

"Flying Squirrel intends to exercise all legal avenues to remain in the Missoula community," he said. "However, it will be an uphill battle which is still in process."

Luke and Cody Schueler grew up in Hamilton, Montana. They said they will honor refunding those customers who purchased passes for future use if the business is unable to reopen.

He said they've been leasing the 25,000-square-foot building for $34,000 per month.

"Our California landlord is not willing to forgive any of the back rent, and will only entertain plans in which it collects all rents owed immediately," he said. "Currently out of all our Flying Squirrel locations, the Missoula Park is the only location where the landlord refused to provide any relief by deferring or waiving a portion of the payments owed. Payments of back rents when revenues were zero/significantly lower due to COVID, which makes it impossible to achieve without the help of our landlord."

David Erickson's most memorable stories of 2020

My five favorite stories of the year involved housing insecurity in Montana, fast-rising housing prices, out-of-state buyers flooding the market here and taxes.

In early November, I completed a data analysis that showed that a tiny fraction of Montana's highest-income earners reaped a disproportionately huge slice of the savings from the Republican Tax Cuts and Jobs Act of 2017. The law also made it easier for wealthy people to buy second homes. In the second part of my story on that law, I asked experts and politicians to talk about the benefits and drawbacks of such a sweeping piece of legislation. My other three stories looked at how a near-zero rental vacancy rate combined with soaring median home sales prices in Missoula have affected working-class residents, real estate agents and others.

Housing is perhaps the No. 1 issue at the top of most Missoulians' minds, so I'll be keeping track of that in 2021. Thanks for reading!

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