CHATTAHOOCHEE, Fla. (WTXL) — Almost one year into the global COVID-19 pandemic, businesses are still struggling to keep the doors open.
While there are grant and loan programs available, the Federal Reserve data shows that white business owners are twice as likely to get a loan than Black business owners. It's a disparity that's been around longer than the pandemic, however.
"Historically they are the most underserved, especially in terms of conventional lenders," said Apalachee Regional Planning Council Revive! Revolving Loan Fund Manager Jana Williams.
The Apalachee Regional Planning Council is challenging that statistic. Its Revive! Revolve Loan Fund helps minority and women-owned start-ups or businesses looking for expansion.
But there's another important key difference: This loan fund prioritizes business owners traditional banks and lenders would normally turn away.
"This is not a bank program. This is a business program. We're investing in people," said Williams.
The loan helped Tammy Ceasor accomplish her dream of opening AngelCare With a Vision Assisted Living Facility in Chattahoochee.
"Twenty-five, 30 denials from banks. I don't have bad credit and that's what kept bothering me," said Ceasor.
Ceasor said when those lenders dug into her past no one wanted to give her a chance.
"A lot of people look at like, 'She was a convicted felon. No, we're not going to give her a chance,'" said Ceasor.
While ARPC does look at credit history, there are other factors it considers before handing out a loan.
"We have a very careful screening process. We look at the big picture; the personal budget, the business budget, the business plan," said Williams.
AngelCare with a Vision is now working with ARPC to expand its facility. Now other businesses impacted by the pandemic can receive help. Another million dollars has been added to the fund.
"We're here to fill capital gaps and promote job creation and job retention. We want to help the struggling businesses here so they can stay afloat and keep on going," said Williams.
The team uses the interest money collected from current loan recipients to support future loan recipients. It also offers other resources, such as marketing and help with paperwork.
The loans are available across the nine counties in the Apalachee Region and loan amounts range from $5,000 to $100,000.
If you're interested in applying, you can contact Jana Williams at firstname.lastname@example.org or call her at (850) 488-6211.