BATTLE CREEK, Mich. — Battle Creek Unlimited (BCU) announced it will be providing at least $500,000 in loans to small businesses in Battle Creek who have been negatively impacted by coronavirus disease 2019, or COVID-19, and adversely affected by Executive Order No. 2020-9.
Joe Sobieralski, president and CEO of BCU, said while owners of bars and restaurants that have a revenue of less than $2.5 million can apply for loans now, within the next 24-48 hours the loan will open up to more businesses.
"I am happy to say that as of last night we're going to grow the fund to about a million dollars," Sobieralski said.
He said if owners fill out the loan application in a timely manner, within 24-48 hours of applying, BCU can have the money ready.
"Really we are targeting businesses with 25 or fewer employees," Sobieralski said.
Business owners can request up to $50,000 in loans from BCU. No payments are required on the loan for the first six months.
"We believe we're going to be able to help anywhere from 20-30 businesses with loans as low as $10,000 and up to a max of $50,000," Sobieralski said.
Sobieralski said when bars and restaurants were shut down under a state stay at home order to enforce social distancing practices, they knew they had to help small business owners get through the temporary and partial closures.
"We really saw what was transpiring," Sobieralski said.
The U.S. Small Business Administration (SBA) announced that it would provide low-interest loans to small business owners. Sobieralski said BCU knew that money may not make it to small business owners quick enough.
"Anything that comes through the federal government, which are great programs, they're going to take a while to actually process the applications," Sobieralski said.
He said since the federal systems will probably be inundated with loan applications, BCU thought it would be best if it jumped in and created emergency loan funds.
"Small businesses are really the backbone of America," Sobieralski said.
He said they are especially important to downtown areas, like downtown Battle Creek.
"The importance of this is once we recover, these are our friends, these are our neighbors" Sobieralski said. "These are folks that we need to guide to help make it through this process so that we when do get through this, they're still gonna be viable."
To see if your business qualifies for the loan visit BCU's resource page.
"If you've taken a look and you currently don't qualify, pay attention in the next 24-48 hours we're trying to broaden the scope," Sobieralski said.