LOUISVILLE, Ky. — For 40 years, the Metropolitan Business Development Corp. (METCO) board has supported small businesses across Jefferson County through a variety of loan programs, including this year, when it approved nearly $3.2 million in low-interest loans to assist small businesses.
On Monday, Mayor Greg Fischer announced the city is expanding eligibility for two of its loan programs.
“For four decades, METCO has helped entrepreneurs fill gaps in financing to make their dreams a reality. Yet access to capital remains a challenge for many new and small business owners, especially our minority- and women-owned businesses,” he said. “This expansion helps us address that challenge.”
The METCO board, which oversees all of Louisville Metro Government’s small business loan programs, approved the expansion to its Business Accelerator and Commercial Renovation loan programs at its December meeting after Metro Council approved $1.5 million in new funds for the small business loan program earlier this year.
The Business Accelerator Loan is now available to small businesses operating in any low- to moderate-income neighborhood in Jefferson County. The Commercial Renovation Loan is now available to commercial properties that are in serious need of repair regardless of occupancy; the loans were previously restricted to properties that had been vacant for a substantial amount of time. By removing the vacancy requirement, METCO hopes to jumpstart the renovation of more spaces that could be occupied by a business.
Earlier this year, the board also approved another program revision allowing cooperatively owned businesses to borrow from METCO as long as shareholders or owners with interest equaling 50% or more provide limited personal guarantees.
In total, METCO approved nearly $3.2 million in low-interest loans, assisting 42 small businesses in 2021. The board approved more than $2.4 million in traditional METCO loans to 26 businesses, leveraging nearly $17.2 million in investment throughout the city. Of those, 11 of the businesses or projects are located in west Louisville, representing over $507,250 in loans and $1.8 million in total investment.
The METCO board also allocated the last of its Small Business COVID-19 Relief Loan Program funds – just over $744,000 – to 17 businesses. Created in September 2020, the program provided small businesses negatively impacted by the pandemic with low-interest loans of up to $50,000 to pay for expenses that would sustain the business. The board awarded $2.2 million of the program’s funds to 54 businesses in 2020.
The small businesses that obtained METCO loans in 2021 include:
- Good Brothers Pharmacy, a Black-owned pharmacy that was approved for $200,000 in Small & Disadvantaged Gap Financing loans to build out a space, market the business, and build up inventory.
- Highview Ice Cream and Coffee, an ice cream parlor and coffee shop on Outer Loop that received a $32,000 Midi loan, which helps cover start-up or expansion costs, to outfit a mobile shop.
- Health Careers Training Institute, a minority- and women-owned business that provides nurse aide training. The institute received a $30,000 Business Accelerator loan to build out and purchase equipment for a new office at 1626 W. Chestnut St.
- Lil Genius Childcare, a minority- and woman-owned daycare center that received a $110,000 Small & Disadvantaged Gap Financing loan to put towards a down payment to purchase 1121 W. Broadway.
- Elements Massage, a member-based massage therapy business on Herr Lane that received a $50,000 COVID-19 Relief Loan and a $19,000 Midi loan to buildout its space and for onboarding and supplies.
Since the city-county merger in 2003, METCO has made 654 loans, totaling over $41 million to 515 small businesses or to individuals for commercial property renovations, Fischer said.
METCO administers all of Louisville Metro Government’s small business loan programs, including its façade, accessibility, business accelerator, and gap financing loans. The loan program allows public-private partnerships between government and private business ventures that further neighborhood services, vitality and quality of life in the Louisville community.
The METCO board meets on the third Thursday of the month at 9 a.m. During the pandemic, meetings have been held virtually. The meeting schedule for 2022 is Jan. 20, Feb. 17, March 17, April 21, May 19, June 16, July 21, Aug. 18, Sept. 15, Oct. 20, and Dec. 8.
To learn more about the city’s small business loan programs, visit https://louisvilleky.gov/government/louisville-forward/local-loan-programs.
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