Hey, Mom and Pop, D.C.’s Got $233,000 for You

Only 15 companies have applied

By Asha Beh
|  Tuesday, Apr 28, 2009  |  Updated 11:45 AM EDT
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Hey, Mom and Pop, D.C.’s Got $233,000 for You

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Small business owners could profit from a new D.C. microloan program.

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Attention small business owners: The D.C. Council has a microloan program with a total of $233,000 in it, and some of it could be yours! 

The money is available through low interest loans of up to $15,000 for all city-registered small businesses.  There's also up to $25,000 for those operating in commercial corridors designated by the Neighborhood Investment Program or with established Main Streets programs, the Washington Business Journal reports.

To date, only about 15 companies have applied, according to Donna Grigsby, executive director of the nonprofit Washington Area Community Investment Fund Inc. that operates the program in concert with the city.

Grigsby told the Journal that many small business owners are still in “shock mode” and have been focused on cutting costs, rather than making new investments. “You get people so drilled and focused on, ‘Oh my god how am I going to survive,’ that they are ostriches for a while,” she said.

The fund is currently a pilot program that expires in September 2010.  If the program shows itself to be a success, though -- i.e., if a lot of people apply (hint, hint!), it could be expanded.

Councilman Kwame Brown (D-at large) had suggested creating a $5 million fund, and is looking for more money despite the city’s budget shortfall, according to the Journal.  He said he would also like to see the fund expanded to allow private financial institutions to pool money with the city’s and make much larger loans.

“What we need is to put money in there that is going to make a difference,” Brown told the Journal.

Yeah, because if you take 15 companies each applying for loans up to $15,000, and they get approved for the full amount, that comes out to $225,000, which leaves the fund with... chump change. 

The good news is, Grisby says she hopes to have two or three loans closed by the end of summer.  So get your head out of the sand, people.  It's money, it's green, and it's still out there... 

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