Sterling, Ill The city of Sterling is making $300,000 available to small businesses to help them get through the COVID-19 pandemic. The funds are to help businesses cover expenses such as rent, inventory, or retaining employees. Locally owned businesses with fewer than 25 employees will be able to apply for up to $10,000 in 1% loans. For the first year, the business owner will only be responsible for paying the interest to make sure they have time to get back on their feet. The funds were originally part of an economic development fund that has been re-purposed to allow them to be used during the Illinois mandatory shutdown. City officials say they are trying to help the small business owners immediately while they are fighting through the red tape of state and federal funds. Business owners can apply for the loans through the cities website, Facebook, or Twitter pages.