FORT WAYNE, Ind. (WANE) – The city of Fort Wayne and a local nonprofit are teaming up to help small businesses with financial assistance via loans. The hope is to allow the businesses to survive and thrive during the COVID-19 pandemic through the Small Business Emergency Relief Program.
About $2 million will be available to small businesses within the city of Fort Wayne. The city will be contributing $300,000 of the funds through the Office of Housing & Neighborhood Services. The remaining money comes from a one-time allocation of $1.7 million provided by the U.S. Department of Housing & Urban Development as part of the CARES Act.
Brightpoint will be administering the loans.
The program will make zero-interest loans up to $20,000 available. The city and Brightpoint said the first year’s payments are forgivable. The business must have fewer than 30 full-time employees to be eligible.
According to a 2018 Census figure, Allen County has 9,269 businesses. Of that, 7,465 of them employ fewer than 20 people.
“Well we’re looking at a lot of different criteria. We’re definitely going to look at financials and see if, essentially see if the business is able to repay the loan. So, it’s not a grant program. It’s not going to just be a free giveaway. We’re going to do some underwriting, but they’re relaxed underwriting versus what you might get from a bank,” said Brightpoint’s President & CEO, Steve Hoffman.
Eligible expenses include but are not limited to rent, utilities, changes to the physical business due to the pandemic, and licenses and application fees.
Ben Vann’s business Edventure Kidz is the type of candidate the city and Brightpoint are looking for to receive the loan.
Vann is the only employee of his business, and just began it in March as a startup. He and other businesses at the downtown co-working space, The Atrium, could benefit from this program.
“Just like everyone, money is important. So a boost like this is valuable. There’s so many things I could use it for, and so this will allow me to focus on my mission, and help me be confident about accomplishing my startup project,” said Vann.
President & CEO of Greater Fort Wayne Inc. John Urbahns recognizes many local businesses could benefit from this money.
“It’s hard to open back up when you’ve been shut down for a couple months and had 0 revenue or limited revenue. And this is a way for them to get back in, get started and become sustainable.”
The Small Business Emergency Relief Program will be available beginning Monday, August 10th, and will be open until August 24th. Assistance will be provided on a first come, first serve basis.
You can apply by calling Brightpoint at 260-423-3546 EXT. 601, or 1-800-589-3506 EXT. 601.