Athens Downtown Development Authority offers new small loan program

A shopper walks in downtown Athens recently, striding past Clayton Street businesses. The Athens Downtown Development Authority, which works to bring economic development to the downtown area, has instituted a small-loan program aimed at assisting downtown businesses with their needs. (Photo/ John Roark, Athens Banner-Herald)

There is now a way for Athens businesses to apply for small loans to help with unexpected costs, after the Athens Downtown Development Authority approved a microloan program at its meeting last week.

 

Businesses in need of small sums can apply with the ADDA for a loan, in a relatively simple process. An application must be filed, specifying how the money will be used, and the ADDA subsequently runs a credit check on the business. From there, First American Bank, a partner with the ADDA in the loan program, will review the application.

At that point, the ADDA board will make a final decision on issuing the loan. Board members made a commitment to that step at the ADDA’s Tuesday meeting.

“I think we have a fiduciary responsibility to at least look where the money is going,” said Chris Blackmon, an ADDA board member and partner and owner of Atlas Real Estate Advisors.

Commissioner Mike Hamby, who sits on the ADDA board, echoed Blackmon.

“I think so, since it’s public money,” Hamby said.

The loan program is meant to offer something that small businesses need but can’t get from banks, said Jim Warnes, counsel for the ADDA.

“Banks don’t like to take small loans. In fact, if it’s $5,000 or less they’re going to tell you to take it out on a credit card,” Warnes said. “This is an opportunity for small businesses to get small loans, which we’re able to do.”

For instance, said Athens-Clarke County Mayor Nancy Denson, who also sits on the ADDA board, businesses can use the loan money to buy equipment they need.

“I see this as being used by a business who needs money quickly to get a refrigerator if theirs goes out suddenly, or situations like that,” she said.

Only businesses within the ADDA boundaries are eligible to apply. And, the maximum loan amount allowed per business is $10,000.

Businesses can find applications for the loans at the ADDA.

The loan money can be used to buy land, buildings, equipment, machinery or any fixed asset. It can also be as working capital during daily trading operations of the business.

For now, the ADDA has set aside a total of $20,000 to loan through the program, although that amount could be increased later.

Follow reporter Hilary Butschek on Twitter @hilarylbutschek or at www.facebook.com/hbutschek.

 

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