TRAVERSE CITY, MI ¬¬– Small businesses in the Grand Traverse area have another option to secure local financing to grow their operations.
Fifth Third Bank and the Traverse City Area Chamber of Commerce launched a new loan program to provide quick access to smaller business loans that fall outside the standard parameters of commercial financing.
The Fifth Third/Traverse City Area Chamber Sub Micro Loan program is a $100,000 revolving fund targeting small businesses in Grand Traverse, Benzie, Kalkaska, Antrim and Leelanau counties. It’s funded by a $50,000 grant from Fifth Third Bank and $50,000 from the Traverse City Area Chamber Foundation.
Fifth Third Northern Michigan President George Bailey III said the loan fund was created after bank officials met with Chamber representatives almost a year ago to talk about barriers to business growth in the region.
“We asked – ‘What does the market need? What’s impeding growth?’,” Bailey said. “They told us the greatest need was funding for the smaller companies, the start-up companies…it fits right in with Fifth Third’s commitment to grow their communities.”
The Sub Micro Loan Fund offers short-term loans of up to $7,500 with a payback period of six to 18 months or less. It’s intended to provide start-up or seed money with a quick turnaround time for loan review and funding, at interest rates between 8 and 12 percent.
Participants are expected to meet with Chamber partners, such as the Michigan Small Business Technology and Development Center (SBTDC), throughout the term of the loan for business counseling and guidance for future growth and sustainability.
Patrick Lonergan, Fifth Third’s Senior Vice President for Community and Economic Development, said the grant is from the bank’s Enterprise Investment Fund which has contributed $2.3 million to community projects in the bank’s service area since 2011.
Lonergan said about 70 percent of those funds have been utilized for “micro-enterprise” programs aimed at growing business opportunities primarily in low to moderate-income areas. Some of those projects include development of an entrepreneurial center near Detroit, a small business mentoring program in Grand Rapids and a venture fund in southwest Michigan,
Lonergan said the Sub Micro Loan Program is Fifth Third’s first such program in Northern Michigan, and credited the Chamber’s groundwork and financial contribution for making the program a reality.
“When you find partners that can work together, that’s the way you get things done,” Lonergan said.
Laura Galbraith, the Chamber’s vice president of administration who will administer the program, said the loan fund has already assisted a local family to sell cherry products from their family farm at the recently concluded National Cherry Festival.
“We’re excited about the opportunity to be community partners in this initiative,” Galbraith said. “Fifth Third supports small business and small business growth within our community, and that’s exactly what the Chamber wants to accomplish.”
The new Sub Micro Loan Fund is among several business financing initiatives available through the Traverse City Area Chamber for a wide range of applications. They include a Business Development Fund with loans up to $250,000 to help established companies grow, a gap financing fund, an energy efficiency fund to help businesses reduce their energy costs and others. More information on those programs is available at the “Need Money” section of the Chamber’s web site at www.tcchamber.org
About the Chamber
The Traverse City Area Chamber of Commerce started in 1915 and is Michigan’s third-largest chamber, serving nearly 1,900 businesses in the Grand Traverse region. It partners with government, nonprofit and other organizations on a wide range of programs and services to grow the area’s economy, protect the environment and enhance quality of life. Learn more at www.tcchamber.org
# # #