METCO Board approves policy change to allow lending to cooperative businesses

September 21, 2021

Louisville Metro Government’s Metropolitan Business Development Corporation (METCO) Board this month approved a change in its policy to allow for lending to cooperative businesses, widening access to these loans.

“A cooperative-owned business gives its members the opportunity to own a piece of the business – something they might not otherwise be able to do. It also allows for wealth sharing and more equitable decision-making,” said Rebecca Fleischaker, Co-Chief of Louisville Forward and Director of Economic Development, which administers the METCO loan programs. “With this policy change, we wanted to ensure that cooperative business members have equitable access to small business loans that they can invest in their ideas and in the community.”

Under previous METCO policy, lending to owners in a cooperative business was not possible as all loans needed to be personally guaranteed by shareholders or owners with 20% or more ownership in the business. Under a cooperative-owned-business model, no single person has an ownership interest of 20% or greater.

With the unanimously approved policy change, cooperative business members, whose interests together equal 50% or more, can provide limited personal guarantees to secure a small business loan. This not only makes the city’s loan programs accessible to a new set of business owners but also spreads out the liability for the loan.

During the September meeting, the METCO Board also approved three loans, totaling $95,500 and leveraging $179,500 in investment. The loans are as follows:

  • Sensori Safety was approved for a $26,500 midi loan to purchase equipment, software, and furniture. The company conducts worker performance assessment and training to help reduce workplace injuries in manufacturing facilities.
  • JMB Three Inc dba Elements Massage, a massage therapy business located at 1301 Herr Lane, was approved for $19,000 midi loan and a $50,000 COVID-19 relief loan. The funds will be used for working capital, including paying buildout invoices, onboarding new employees, advertising, and purchasing supplies. 

The METCO Board votes on applications for Louisville Metro Government's small business loan programs, which include façade, 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 meeting schedule for the rest of 2021 is October 21 and December 2; the board does not meet in November.

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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