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Charlotte Area

City to vote on expanding small business loan program

http://66.225.205.104/LM20100322.mp3

The rough economy may push Charlotte city council members to expand a loan program for small businesses. They're considering the measure at tonight's meeting. Small businesses setting up in some of Charlotte's distressed neighborhoods have been able to get low-interest loans through the city. Only one company is currently taking advantage of the program and several city council members worry that what may have worked well to spur development in more prosperous times is coming up short in a slow economy. They want to make these loans available to small businesses locating anywhere in the city, as long as the companies fall into six targeted sectors including health and energy. Tom Flynn, the City's Economic Development Director, says the city can be more flexible about giving loans than banks. "We don't look at it purely from just a lending criteria, but then also does this loan have a public worth in terms of creating economic development," says Flynn. Businesses must still pair the city loan with a bank loan. If council approves the change, the expanded criteria would only last two years. Flynn expects the new policy would allow the city to make 20 new loans a year averaging $35,000. The program has $1.4 million dollars to loan.