YOUNGSTOWN -- Mahoning Valley Economic Development Corporation, which has re-branded as Valley Economic Development Partners, is using federal awards to create a new $5 million revolving loan to help small businesses during the COVID-19 pandemic.
"Our organization was established in 1978 through a grant from the [U.S. Economic Development Administration] partially in response to the collapse of the steel industry. Here we are over 40 years later facing a different economic crisis with COVID-19," Teresa Miller, executive director, is quoted in a release.
The Valley Partners Revolving Loan Fund, established with CARES Act funding and an EDA award — which U.S. Secretary of Commerce Wilbur Ross announced during a visit to the area last week — will offer loans of up to $250,000 for businesses impacted by COVID-19. Interest rates will vary based on the use of the loan and and collateral, according to the release.
"It's crucial for us to not see businesses have to shut their doors because they couldn't access the financing needed to get themselves back on their feet," James Rosa, board president, said. "That's why we're committing this Revolving Loan Fund to [help] small businesses retain jobs, expand and create new opportunities."
Miller said the funds have a “broad use” and can be put toward anything from new construction to operating capital for rent or utilities. Eligibility criteria can be found on the organization’s website, MVEDC.com, which spokespersons expect will soon change to ValleyEDP.com.
Miller recommended businesses seeking the new loan come prepared with a business plan.
MVEDC’s previous revolving loan started with a $3.6 million award from the EDA in 1978, and has continued to revolve since then. It’s helped “hundreds” of local businesses get their start, said Julie Michael Smith, board vice president.
“On one hand, it’s very distressing we’re in this current economic situation. … It’s also very gratifying this organization, in its 41-year history, has been so dynamic and responsive to the community’s needs,” Smith said Thursday. “There will be economic growth in our community again. I have no doubt that we will see new businesses in our community.”
To learn more about the fund, visit MVEDC.com or call 330-759-3668.
Miller said the economic development group's new name better reflects its work outside the Valley region, which has come to include surrounding counties, and "references the partnership role the organization plays with businesses, banks and the community," according to the release.
"It's a full circle moment for the organization and we believe this is the right time to represent ourselves with a new name and identity in the community," Miller said.