I’m liable to be at this until I drop or until Downtown looks the way I envision it. I’m praying the latter beats the former.
After sending out a barrage of emails asking about loans or grants that might be available for downtown building owners to use, it occurred to me to ask the man that holds the money. But it’s not who you’re thinking of. Sometimes, walking through one door, unlocks the next one. Because I did the Community Development interview, I got the opportunity to meet Doug Rangel. Doug is the Executive Director of the Lorain Development Corporation. Flashing back briefly, this is what Sandy Prudoff explained to me during the interview:
The other division, which is not really a city department, is our contract with the Lorain Development Corporation. The reason why we have a contract with them, we don’t have city staff doing that, is that he (Doug Rangel) has a ward of accountants, bankers, attorneys and business people. They, for no fee, and volunteer time, meet with Doug, and any small business request for financing, all the way up to $1.3 million on the Duane Building, all the way up to a $6 million undertaking of the Industrial Park, he and his Board, but primarily him, will structure the financing, monitor the financing. The Industrial Park had $2+ million for the loan, a loan from the State. A $2+ million loan from the Federal Government, a $2 million grant from the State, and a $2 million grant from the EDA (Economic Development Association).
What happens in these programs is, you get the Federal money to spend first, so you get reimbursed once the State sees you’ve spent the Federal money. So you send all of your construction plans into HUD, then you have to send that to the State. Because the State has loaned us money, they’ll reimburse us about 40% of that. Then you send that to the Federal Government to EDA, and they’ll reimburse us for the grants. It’s a layered group of funds, and this is the guy (Doug), along with Larry Mitoff, who basically maintain an array of financing.
So, last night I shot an email to Doug. I got a reply back this morning! Doug gets a huge round of applause for being timely. This is what Doug had for me:
The City does have a low-interest rate loan program specifically geared for downtown businesses for exterior work. It is called the Commercial Facade Improvement Program to help improve the building facades in the downtown district. It is to be used in conjunction with private financing and/or equity. The funds are available for a term not to exceed 15 years at 5% per annum, 3% preferred rate if owner utilizes a professional architect. Loan size ranges from $500 to $7,500 per qualifying building elevation but must be matched on 1:1 basis with private funding. The plans require that Design Review approve any changes and/or modifications. A set of guidelines and application is available upon request from myself.
If you are looking at work to interior spaces we have are typical loan program, but that is limited to 30% of total project cost with minimum 10% equity and 60% private financing. The funds can be used for renovation but require job creation/rentention.
All of these loans are subject to review and approval by the loan board of Lorain Development Corporation as well as Board of Control, if they fall within the guidelines and would additionally require City Council approval if the loan request goes outside of guidelines.
Please feel free to contact me if there are any other questions.
In my phone call to Doug this morning, he told me that Scorcher’s, Swiss American Jewellers and Ghoulardi’s (improvements not visible anymore) are three of the local businesses that have already taken advantage of the loan program. He hopes and wishes that more businesses contact him for this, as it would really improve the looks of our Downtown.
So, there is money available, folks. And I’m still looking for more. So, stay tuned.