Small Business Loans

Published 12:00 am Friday, September 25, 2015

Small businesses on Square could qualify for loans to spruce up for Polar Express

By John Howell

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City officials will meet at 10 a.m. today to set guidelines for loans to small businesses in or near the Public Square to assist with preparations for the arrival of the Polar Express Train Ride.

“We’ve got the revolving loan fund that we have money in, and I would like to see if y’all would go with us in making some of that money to some of the store owners downtown, not in big amounts — $15,000 to $20,000, that’s up to y’all — with no interest for a year and then after that … the three percent like everybody else,” Alderman-at-Large Teddy Morrow said, speaking to fellow aldermen and the mayor late during the September 15 meeting.

Morrow said that the idea came from an earlier meeting with Batesville Main Street businesses where he heard several store owners express regret at having learned of plans to bring the Polar Express Train Ride to Batesville after seasonal and other buying had been completed.

“The months have been so slow, right now,” Morrow said.

The alderman-at-large said that during conversations with five different downtown business owners, he heard of possibilities for use of the loan proceeds ranging from painting and adding an awning to increasing inventory to adding lighting and dressing rooms. “I think it would be used for a little bit of everything,” he said.

Morrow said that before bringing the idea to the board for consideration he had discussed the the idea with assistant City Attorney Colmon Mitchell and to North Delta Planning and Development District (NDPDD) Director James Curcio. NDPDD has previously handled loan applications for the city’s revolving economic development fund and would be willing to assist with the screening for the smaller loan program, Morrow said.

“If we do this here and it works okay down here, maybe next year or when this is done, let’s extend it to another part of town in a small area and do the same thing again,” Morrow continued.

Aldermen voted unanimously for attorney Mitchell to begin discussion with NDPDD to plan for the loan program.

Morrow, who has an interest in a downtown business, said that he might be interested in a loan to replace his awning, but that he would only pursue a loan through the program if the city attorney determines his participation is legal. Morrow also said that he would recuse himself from the vote expected to come today to establish the loan program.