Loan plan to help small businesses in Fitchburg
UPDATED: 08/31/2017 08:52:58 AM EDT
FITCHBURG -- ReImagine North of Main hopes to make loans for downtown small-business owners and entrepreneurs more accessible through a $25,000 grant to North Central Massachusetts Development Corporation, leaders from both organizations announced Wednesday.
"These loans allow them the flexibility to provide loans that may be a little riskier," said Tricia Pistone, project director for ReImagine North of Main.
The $25,000 grant will be used toward loan-loss reserve requirements, giving the North Central Massachusetts Development Corporation, which is affiliated with the chamber, additional security when offering loans to fledgling businesses in the downtown Fitchburg and north of Main Street area.
Chamber President and CEO Roy Nascimento said the development corporation offers loans from $5,000 to $50,000, which covers a variety of business needs from working capital to equipment costs to leasehold improvement to refinancing of business credit-card debt.
"(It) will help us continue to give microloans in the community," he said.
The announcement took place in Gallery Sitka West, a Main Street art gallery that is among a handful of downtown businesses that have received financial assistance from the loan program, according to Nascimento.
"What I'm trying to do here, what I want to do here, is a real shot in the dark for a business owner," said gallery owner Tamar Russell Brown. "We're a team of four. We're all women.
We're youngish, and this was a real jump."
Brown said that though most galleries are in locations where people have second homes, the chamber supported her efforts to open her business in Fitchburg.
The collaboration between ReImagine North of Main and the North Central Massachusetts Development Corporation is expected to support three to six loans over the next three years and help create one to two new businesses on Main Street.
The $25,000 was funded through $150,000 in "tactical funds" from the Federal Reserve Bank of Boston's Working Cities Challenge, according to a press release.
Special consideration in the loan process will go toward restaurants, specialty foods, shoe and apparel stores, art galleries, entertainment coffeehouses and "creative-based businesses" like graphic design.
Eligible loan participants, either new or existing, must diversify the businesses already on Main Street or create jobs in the community, according to a press release.
"For many years, Fitchburg has been waiting for the white horse to ride in and save us, but what we have learned is we need to look within," Pistone said.
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