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$2.2 million in micro-loans set to aid west Louisville businesses

Published: Oct. 6, 2021 at 11:00 PM EDT|Updated: Oct. 6, 2021 at 11:28 PM EDT
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LOUISVILLE, Ky. (WAVE) - Eleven neighborhoods in Louisville are about to receive more than $2 million in COVID aid. The money, funded by a federal block grant, will be used to help small businesses recover following the pandemic.

The neighborhoods being helped are Algonquin, Portland, California, Russell, Chickasaw, Shawnee, Park DuValle, Shelby Park, Parkland, Park Hill, and Smoketown.

The money is being loaned to businesses via Louisville Housing and Opportunities Micro-Enterprise Community Development Loan Fund, Inc. LHOME’s business coaching, called the ‘Back to Business Initiative,’ is focused on sub-$150,000 loans to help women and minority-owned businesses.

Shawn Spencer runs Trimen Solutions, an HR and staffing agency in the Parkland neighborhood. She said a loan from the fund would have an exponential impact in west Louisville.

“The one thing in staffing you have to have above all is money to pay for payroll dollars,” Spencer said. “Being able to have a cushion, without necessarily having to go to the bank is so important.”

With just three rooms and five cubicles, Spencer said she makes sure thousands of workers get paid. That was an easier task before the pandemic took all her clients.

“Our clients had dried up,” Spencer said. “Some of them were still in business, (and) some had to close and haven’t yet reopened.”

Now, she said worker shortages have her so busy she’s outgrown her office space but doesn’t have the cash to expand. Spencer said a lot of businesses like hers can’t afford a lot of traditional loans at the moment but need cash to grow into a profitable place.

“It’s great to get money, but sometimes you don’t know when your revenue is going to rebound to the point where you can pay that money back,” she said.

LHOME CEO Mary Ellen Wiederwohl said what makes the loans special is that up to $50,000 can be forgiven. To qualify for a loan, the business must fulfill these requirements:

  • Have an established business that was operating prior to March 1, 2020;
  • Be the business owner or a majority partner;
  • Have a documented loss of income directly related to COVID-19 pandemic;
  • Demonstrate how this coaching and funding will help reestablish and/or grow the business;
  • Have a bank account; and
  • Be at least 18 years of age and have a state-issued ID.

Wiederwohl said even if business owners do not qualify, they should reach out.

“We can still help,” she said. “These are the neighborhoods that start way behind everyone else.”

This funding is the latest in nearly $30 million the city has administered helping at least 894 small businesses survive the pandemic.

For Spencer, growing in west Louisville is especially important.

“If you’re worried about meeting high-interest loans, or where you’re going to get the money to cover the next payroll,” Spencer said. “You’re not able to do those small things that could change someone’s employment life or career trajectory.”

Wiederwohl said west Louisville businesses were hit especially hard during the pandemic because a lot of the shops used nontraditional banks and didn’t qualify for the Paycheck Protection Program loans. To learn more about the loans and if you qualify, click here.

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