September 28, 2012

State of Alabama
Press Release: Alabama Department of Commerce

Tuscaloosa Launching $2.5 million Loan Program for Businesses Locating in Tornado Recovery Zone

September 27, 2012

Tuscaloosa Mayor Walt Maddox at EDGE

Tuscaloosa Mayor Walt Maddox speaks at a press conference on the city's commercial revolving loan program for businesses locating in Tuscaloosa's recovery zone at the EDGE business incubator on Sept. 27, 2012 in Tuscaloosa, Ala. (Chris Pow /

TUSCALOOSA, Alabama -- A $2.5 million commercial revolving loan program aimed at spurring economic development in Tuscaloosa's tornado recovery zone will begin accepting applications next week, officials said.

The program, one of ways the city will spend $16.6 million in disaster relief funds from the U.S. Department of Housing and Urban Development, will grant loans ranging from $20,000 to $200,000 to business owners rebuilding or planning to locate in areas impacted by the April 27, 2011 tornado.

"It's not just for those that were directly impacted or who haven't rebuilt, it's for those that are maybe looking to invest into the recovery zone or those who have already rebuilt," said Tuscaloosa Mayor Walt Maddox.

Maddox said one of the challenges of recovery in the city has been getting business growth going in those areas hit by the storm.

The city will accept applications for the first round of the program, which will provide interest-free loans for three years, from Oct. 1 through Oct. 30. Applications will be reviewed from November until the end of December in order received, and a second round will begin Jan. 1.

The Chamber of Commerce of West Alabama is partnering with the city in assisting business owners interested in applying for funds.

"This type of partnership is something that's outstanding not only for our businesses but for the quality of life for our entire community," Maddox said.

Beginning Oct. 8, the EDGE business incubator in downtown Tuscaloosa will provide services including help with developing business plans and providing answers to questions about filling out financial information on the loan application, said chamber president and CEO Jim Page.

Staff with the Small Business Development Center and the Service Corps of Retired Executives will be among the service providers who will assist business owners from 8 a.m. to 5 p.m. during weekdays, Page said.

"Taking $2.5 million of the $16.6 million that was allocated and directly earmarking that for small business development is a real testament to this city's belief in the business community and support of small business," Page said.

Maddox said the city plans to make an "aggressive push" for additional funds from HUD to go to programs like the commercial revolving loans. HUD has identified $28.2 million in unmet business needs in the city, Maddox said.

Robin Edgeworth, commander of the city's Incident Command team, said copies of the application are available at City Hall, at the Chamber and online at the city's website. Anyone interested in applying for the program can call 311 to get information on the process and request an application via mail.

The areas covered by the loan take the path of the tornado from part of Martin Luther King Jr. Boulevard in the southwest part of the city limits through Rosedale, Forest Lake, the intersection of 15th Street and McFarland Boulevard and Alberta City. The application includes a map for quick reference on eligible locations, and applicants can contact the city with questions about a property's eligibility.

Applicants with business-related questions about filling out the application can contact the chamber at 205-758-7588.

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