City of Kalamazoo considers loan fund for small businesses

KALAMAZOO, Mich. (WOOD) — A plan to provide up to $2 million in low-interest loans to local small businesses will be discussed during an online Kalamazoo City Commission meeting Thursday evening.

Kalamazoo leaders say funding from federal and state programs could take too long to get to local businesses, so they’re considering a new program.

The new program, the Kalamazoo Small Business Loan Fund, would provide money through the Foundation for Excellence.

The 36-month loans will have no required payments for the first six months, followed by a 1% interest rate.

To qualify, employers must provide support to impacted employees, be located within the city limits, have 50 employees or less, need working capital for payroll or operational expenses and can demonstrate an income loss from the pandemic.

The local United Way would run the program, which could provide loans from $5,000 to $50,000.

The city commission will have an online public meeting through the Zoom video conferencing app where commissioners are expected to vote on allocating the funds.

Public comment will be allowed through the free platform as well.

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City Manager Jim Ritsema says if the program is approved, it could quickly make an impact.

“What we’re looking at doing is starting the program tomorrow April 1st with the intent of having funds immediately available for those that apply,” Kalamazoo City Manager Jim Ritsema said.

The online meeting starts at 6 p.m. on Tuesday.