City approves nearly $6.5 million in low-interest loans for 77 small businesses in 2020

December 18, 2020

The Metropolitan Business Development Corporation (METCO) board this year approved low-interest loans, totaling nearly $6.5 million, to help 77 small businesses get started, grow and stabilize amid the COVID-19 pandemic. In 2019, the board approved $2.5 million in loans.

“Given this year’s dual challenges of the COVID-19 pandemic and resulting economic recession, it is no surprise that we are seeing a greater need from businesses for METCO’s traditional low-interest loan products, as well as the new Small Business COVID-19 Relief Loan Program, created specifically to assist businesses affected by the pandemic,” said Mayor Greg Fischer. “Thank you to the METCO board and our Small Business Team for their hard work this year!”

The board, which oversees Louisville Forward’s small business loan program, approved traditional METCO loans, totaling almost $4.3 million for 23 small businesses in 2020. The loans, which are offered every year, are expected to leverage $52.7 million in investment.

Another 54 businesses received loans, totaling $2.2 million through the Small Business COVID-19 Relief Loan program, also administered by METCO. Created in September with $2.9 million from the U.S. Department of Commerce’s Economic Development Administration, the program provides small businesses negatively impacted by COVID with low-interest loans of up to $50,000 to pay for expenses that will sustain the business.

In addition to the loan approvals, the METCO Board in November approved a $500,000 allocation to the Louisville Urban League for A Path Forward fund, which will provide a mix of grants and low-interest or forgivable loans to Black entrepreneurs, and agreed to defer loan payments for existing METCO loan holders until July 1, 2021. Loan holders must request the deferral; it is not applied automatically.

In March, the board voted to shift $500,000 from its Small and Disadvantaged Gap Loan Fund to LHOME to create the Small Business Continuity Loan Program, a $900,000 fund providing zero-interest loans with no payments for 12 months to small businesses impacted by COVID-19. LHOME, a Louisville-based community development financial institution, has approved loans totaling $1.5 million to 68 local businesses.

METCO administers all of Louisville Metro Government's small business loan programs, which include facade, accessibility, working capital, and gap financing loans. Because Louisville Metro is not the primary lender, the loan program allows many public-private partnerships between government and private business ventures that further neighborhood services, vitality and quality of life in the Louisville community.

The METCO board meets on the fourth Thursday of each month. Meetings are at 9 a.m. and can be streamed on Develop Louisville's Facebook page.  The meeting schedule for 2021 is January 28, February 25, March 25, April 22, May 27, June 25, July 22, August 26, September 23, October 21 and December 9.

To learn more about the city’s small business loan programs, visit https://louisvilleky.gov/government/louisville-forward/local-loan-programs.

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