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More than $200 million in small business loans is coming to North Carolina as part of an ongoing federal program to help disadvantaged businesses.

The State Small Business Credit Initiative has created thousands of jobs in the state already, and economic leaders are hoping to see an even bigger impact in the years ahead.

The announcement was made on Friday morning at a roundtable held at the NC Rural Center in Raleigh.

Attendees included the US Deputy Secretary of the Treasury and NC Commerce Secretary, who laid out how $202 million in American Rescue Plan funding would finance the effort.

This is the second stage of the SSBCI in North Carolina, which received $44 million in small business loans during the first offering back in 2012.

“So, we’re going to be giving North Carolina more money this time in order to make sure the small businesses, which are at the heart of North Carolina’s economy, are able to expand,” said Deputy Secretary of the U.S. Treasury Department Wally Adeyemo.

State leaders said the SSBCI allows small businesses to receive loans that they otherwise wouldn’t be accepted for due to a lack of collateral, and the plan has made a significant impact in the state over the past decade.

“We’ve reached [more than] 1,200 small businesses across the state, and those businesses have in turn created [more than] 16,000 jobs in the state,” NC Rural Center president Patrick Woodie said. “We’re really proud of the work.”

One of those small business owners was Musaed Saleh, a speaker at the announcement. Saleh described how he’d used the SSBCI loans to grow his chain of convenience stores in eastern North Carolina.

“We’re here to take advantage of that program,” Saleh said. “It’s made our business grow and we do better for the community.”

With more than four times the amount of money being offered in this second round, economic leaders hoped the SSBCI could create upwards of 60,000 jobs in NC over the next decade.

“We’re going to have hundreds of millions of dollars that’s going to stay in the state for 10 years, producing all kinds of loans, all kinds of jobs,” SSBCI NC Executive Director Armeer Kenchen said. “And we’re very excited.”

To be eligible to apply for SSBCI loans, program leaders said a small business must have fewer than 500 employees, and that either existing companies or startups could apply.

Part of the effort is a major focus on disadvantaged businesses: 33% of the funds for this round of the program will be set aside for business owners who are women, people of color, or live in rural areas.

The first loan program would launch by the end of August, and economic developers said any businesses looking to apply for an SSBCI loan would have to go through their individual lender, such as a bank or credit union.

“And that is the best way, is for them to ask their lenders that they’re working with if they use these programs,” Woodie said. “If they’re not, we’ll get them signed up in a hurry.”

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