Sunday, January 9, 2011

Micro-loans available for small businesses in 50 North Georgia counties

A ceremonial big check for $605,000 was presented last week by Donnie Thomas, acting state director of USDA Rural Development, to Grace Fricks, chief executive officer of Access to Capital for Entrepreneurs (ACE), to provide micro-loans to small rural businesses in North Georgia. Funding for micro-loans, those less than $50,000, is available through the Rural Microentrepreneur Assistance Program (RMAP). ACE became eligible to draw down funds right before Christmas.

“This should be another avenue of support for rural entrepreneurs in need of loans,” said Thomas. “We realize that many small businesses are running into problems accessing capital. We hope this program will help.”

ACE will serve most of Northeast Georgia: Banks, Barrow, Bartow, Carroll, Catoosa, Chattooga, Cherokee, Clayton, Cobb, Coweta, Dade, Dawson, Douglas, Elbert, Fannin, Fayette, Floyd, Forsyth, Franklin, Gilmer, Gordon, Habersham, Hall, Haralson, Hart, Heard, Henry, Jackson, Lumpkin, Madison, Morgan, Murray, Newton, Oconee, Oglethorpe, Paulding, Pickens, Polk, Putnam, Rabun, Rockdale, Stephens, Towns, Union, Walker, Walton, White and Whitfield.

As businesses pay back loans, the funds are then available to re-lend to another business, creating a renewable loan resource.

Funding levels for RMAP for FY2011 is not currently known. The initial announcement said $4 million would be available nationwide. However, the U.S. government is currently under a continuing resolution. Specific funding amounts for FY2011 will not be known until a budget is signed by Congress.

Loans through this program can be used for working capital; purchase of furniture, fixtures, supplies, inventory or equipment; debt refinancing; business acquisitions; and purchase or lease of real estate, with qualifying conditions.

Loan funds cannot be used for a variety of purposes, including, but not limited to, construction costs or assistance that will cause conflict of interest issues.

Businesses interested in applying for loans can contact ACE for assistance – http://www.aceloans.org. Interest rates on the ACE loans will be between 6-12 percent and the point of contact is Sandy Headley (headley@aceloans.org).

For more information on Rural Development programs, visit http://www.rurdev.usda.gov/ga.

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