Micro Loan Fund would help create small businesses in Eau Claire

EAU CLAIRE, Wis. (WEAU) -- Creating and developing business is the goal behind one of three new Eau Claire loan programs being considered by the city council.

The programs would replace ones lost when Eau Claire businesses were banned from participating in the Regional Business Fund.

The proposed Micro Loan Fund would help small businesses get off the ground.

Economic development administrator Mike Schatz explained, “We feel it's good to bring something back for the good of the community because these businesses are creating jobs, creating tax base and we hope that we can have the same tools other communities have.”

There would be $100,000 in the fund to allow new or growing small businesses to borrow a minimum of $5,000 or maximum of $30,000 to get started or help grow their business of less than 3 years.

“In every community you want to have tools that can assist businesses. Banks and credit unions can't do it all themselves. There are gaps especially for start-up businesses that don't have the past history with a lender and are bit riskier,” said Schatz.

Schatz said if the city council approves the program next week there are already several businesses ready to apply showing just how much the city needs the program.

Western Dairyland in Eau Claire is one of several organizations who wrote a letter to the city council in support of the program.

Karman Briggs the director of jobs and business development said, “I think the economic impact of small business can't be overlooked. It's nice to have the large corporations in our community that provide lots and lots of jobs but I think the stability of a community is based on having a lot of small business that keep things running.”

Briggs said the program would assist business owners that traditionally have had difficulty accessing debt financing.

She added, “A lot of the commercial lending that's out there, it's available for people that are expanding an existing business, there's not a lot of funding available for folks that are just starting out.”

The other programs up for city council approval on Tuesday are a Revolving Loan Fund and Commercial Building Façade Loan Fund.

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