HUDSON — Efforts to cope with the COVID-19 pandemic highlighted the Columbia Economic Development Corporation’s annual meeting Tuesday morning.

The annual economic development meeting was held virtually due to the pandemic and featured a number of state and local officials as speakers.

“From the earliest days of the pandemic last March, it was clear that it would take extraordinary efforts to respond to the significant impacts that touched us all,” Corporation President and CEO F. Michael Tucker said. “We are proud of the work that we’ve done, in partnership with so many of you, to help keep our community informed in the face of rapidly changing conditions; helping business owners access federal resources, while providing guidance and technical assistance, as well as small business loans and grant funds.”

These included expanding CEDC’s SBA Microloan and county revolving loan programs, as well as administering a series of emergency grant programs to help hundreds of local businesses and nonprofits bridge the gap.

“The CEDC has successfully led the way in helping Columbia County’s business community respond to, and comeback from, the unprecedented health and economic challenges of COVID-19,” state Sen. Daphne Jordan, R-43, said. “Along with its organizational partners, CEDC returned $1.3 million to the community in terms of loans, grants and support secured, that’s an incredible figure. Every dollar of that funding makes a real difference in helping Columbia County.”

The CEDC Revolving Loan Fund and the U.S. Small Business Administration’s Microloan program made 34 business loans totaling $671,300, CEDC’s Rapid Recovery Loan Program supported seven small businesses with low-interest loans totaling $105,000, according to the CEDC 2020 Annual Report.

Through the Columbia County Business Continuity Fund, in partnership with the Berkshire Taconic Community Foundation and other contributors, CEDC helped deploy cash grants to 125 businesses totaling $262,000. CEDC administered the city of Hudson’s $100,000 Minority Owned Business Grant Fund, funded by the Galvan Foundation, providing 13 grants to Hudson businesses.

CEDC Treasurer John E. Lee gave the treasurer’s report for 2020. He said the total liabilities, deferred inflows and net position for the CEDC, as of Dec. 31, 2020, amounted to $3,599,960. He said this was an increase from the same period in 2019 of $66,795.

“The total revenues for 2020 were $893,546, and the total expenditures were $1,170,862, for total revenues in excess of expenditures, was a negative $277,316,” Lee said.

Tucker explained the negative $277,000.

“When you add back the $100,000 that we added to the loan loss reserve, and you add back the $68,700 that we were not able to record from PPE until 2021, that brings us down to $100,000,” Tucker said. “We had projected a $50,000 loss, so we were really only about $45,000 off. It’s just the way the accountants reported it.”

Tucker said the PPE loan money they received last year, but it could not be forgiven until January.

“So we couldn’t book that $70,000 in 2020, and when we took $100,000 and moved it on our balance sheet to loan loss reserve, you have to expense it, but we didn’t really lose it. We still have it in our account. It just had to be expensed.”

Columbia-Greene Community College President Carlee Drummer was the keynote speaker for this year’s meeting. She talked about the impact COVID had on the college.

“At the beginning of April 2020, classes resumed, or I should say Zoomed,” Drummer said. “And a brave new world was underway. The semester ended on a high note with 89% of students giving a thumbs up to their virtual learning environment.”

The college is now able to offer a wide range of learning options such as in-person, learning remotely online and in a hybrid combination, Drummer said. Another benefit the college has seen during COVID is that nursing students have been able to assist at COVID vaccine pods held at the college.

“The pandemic truly catalyzed the seismic proportion of their education,” Drummer said. “The shift in course delivery methods that pre-COVID-19 might have taken years to adopt.”

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