$2M loan fund approved for Kzoo city businesses hit by pandemic

The application process is intended to be quick so businesses can immediately pay bills.

Small businesses in the city of Kalamazoo that experience financial damage by the spreading pandemic can apply for low interest loans of up to $50,000. 

The city commission unanimously approved the Kalamazoo Small Business Loan Fund during a special meeting Tuesday which was held online to reduce the spread of COVID-19.

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The funds will come from the city’s Foundation for Excellence (FFE), a privately-funded entity of the city established to offset lowered property taxes, plug gaps in the annual budget, and fund aspirational projects.

Businesses can apply starting Wednesday, in an attempt to quickly provide necessary cash flow support, before state and federal funds are made available for businesses reeling from the economic hardships attributed to the spread of COVID-19. Applications are available via the website of the United Way of Battle Creek and Kalamazoo, which is administering the fund. 

FFE Manager Steve Brown at the meeting:

  • 1% interest rate was chosen, in part, to encourage loan recipients to refinance their loan later through federal and state programs that have even lower interest rates.
  • Intended to serve as a bridge until federal and state programs tied to the COVID-19 crisis are started.
  • Six-member panel to review applications: two people who self-identify as people of color and two are women. 
  • Loans especially to support community members living below the ALICE threshold, described as “asset limited, income constrained, employed,” and “to eliminate some of the historical and structural biases to the success of minority-owned businesses in our community.”

City officials said they will kick off an awareness campaign throughout the city for prospective applicants. Full criteria, terms, and details will be on the local United Way’s application website


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