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Coronavirus: Muskoka District council endorses local business recovery fund

The Town of Bracebridge has about 16,000 permanent residents.
The Town of Bracebridge has about 16,000 permanent residents. Daina Goldfinger/Global News

As Ontario begins to reopen its economy amid the novel coronavirus pandemic, Muskoka District council has approved a $750,000 loan to local business consulting firm Muskoka Futures for a regional business recovery fund.

The funding program would be directed at small Muskoka businesses that have been affected by COVID-19 and that are not eligible for funding from the provincial or federal governments.

READ MORE: ‘Quiet for a long weekend,’ Muskoka mayors say of cottagers amid coronavirus pandemic

In addition to the fund, Muskoka council has also endorsed the creation of a regional economic recovery task force, which is expected to minimize the effects of the pandemic on businesses across the region.

Officials say the task force will “seek, leverage, and advocate for provincial and federal government funding to support Muskoka-based businesses.”

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According to a council report dated May 13, local chambers of commerce in Muskoka have found that more than 84 per cent of businesses have seen a decline in business.

READ MORE: Coronavirus: Can I visit my Ontario cottage on the May long weekend?

“Feedback from Muskoka’s chambers of commerce indicate those most at risk in Muskoka include unincorporated sole proprietorships and seasonal businesses,” the report reads.

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A portion of Muskoka’s residents are seasonal, and until recently, they were encouraged to stay at their primary residences if they could.

Muskoka’s mayors have said anyone who travels to the region should bring their supplies with them and socially isolate as much as possible.

In Muskoka, there have been 19 confirmed cases of the novel coronavirus.