Ellen Perlman was a GOVERNING staff writer and technology columnist.E-mail: firstname.lastname@example.org
Mom-and-pop businesses along a future light-rail line through Tempe, Arizona, may be able to borrow up to $20,000 at reduced rates. The city, along with the chamber of commerce and a financial institution, has set up a credit line at 1 percent over prime for those adversely affected by construction of a new transit line.
Tempe has committed $100,000 to cover any business defaults. However, since the program is a line of credit, not a loan, if a business fails to make payments, the credit line can be shut off to protect both the lender and the city.
Some 300 businesses are vulnerable to a downturn in sales or other negative impacts as trenches are dug outside their door, large trucks move about in the area or traffic is rerouted. In order to qualify for the line of credit, they have to have been at their location more than two years and have been profitable 12 months prior to getting their line of credit approved. "If a business is otherwise on a track for failing, we don't want them to go into more debt," says Dan Henderson, economic development specialist with the city.
The light-rail line is not expected to be completed until 2008 and businesses will have access to the funds during the entire two- to three-year period. The loan program could be used during utility relocation or other work during the project.
Mesa and Phoenix are looking into similar programs for small businesses along their portion of the light-rail line.
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