While the Economic Development Corporation of Essex County has been offering microloans to local businesses for some time, there's been a renewed emphasis recently on publicizing its mission.
"The economy is so difficult right now; we want to make sure businesses know about our resources," said EDC Deputy Director Craig Lombardi, who has been making the rounds at government meetings in Essex County towns recently.
Loans for up to $100,000 are available, according to Lombardi, and the EDC is "set up to take a little more risk than a bank would," making it a good resource for 1- and 2-year-old businesses that would have trouble obtaining a bank loan. A time frame for repayment is determined on a case-by-case basis, based on the business's cash flow, but, in general, the maximum is 10 years, he said.
According to EDC Executive Director Deborah Collins, grants generally fund capital improvements like facade work. "They're intended to enable a business to expand, but we have made loans to start-ups as well," said Collins, who named Supreme Bakery in West Orange and Coco in Millburn as recent awardees.
The EDC partners with the New Jersey Small Business Development Centers, which can assist in formulating business plans. After an applicant's business plan is evaluated by Collins and Lombardi, it's referred to the EDC's nine-member Board of Trustees for approval. One of the stated goals of the EDC is to fund businesses whose expansion will create three low- to moderate-income jobs, though funding isn't always contingent on that.
For more information, call the EDC at 973-621-4454 or 4457, or peruse information on microloans here.