October 31, 2012

State of Alabama
Press Release: Alabama Department of Commerce

Application Window Could be Extended for Tuscaloosa's Loan Program for Businesses Locating in Tornado Recovery Zone

October 31, 2012

TUSCALOOSA, Alabama -- The city of Tuscaloosa is considering extending the application window for the first round of its $2.5 million commercial revolving loan program after receiving four applications by deadline Tuesday.

The program, aimed at granting interest-free 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, was funded with part of $16.6 million the city received in Community Development Block Grant disaster relief funds from the U.S. Department of Housing and Urban Development.

Savannah Howell, community development program manager for the city's Recovery Operations Department, told the City Council's community development committee Tuesday that there is a committee in place that plans to begin reviewing next week the four applications they received from Oct. 1-30.

The turnout was less than hoped, and the Recovery Operations Department is looking at options to bring in more requests, Howell said.

"We're kind of going back and forth on what we want to do because we do want people to apply for it," Howell said. "We do want make use of those funds, so we're trying to determine what we're going to do now."

Robin Edgeworth, director of the Recovery Operations Department, said the city originally planned to close the first round for applications on Tuesday and start a second round at the beginning of January, but the department is considering keeping the application window open.

"We did plan on closing it and opening it back up in January, but we do want to make sure we get the money out to the community, so I think we'll be able to revisit that," Edgeworth said.

The program currently requires businesses applying for the loans to begin rebuilding within 90 days, and some owners who would apply might not be able to commit to that requirement at this point, Edgeworth said.

All four of the businesses that applied were in place before the storm and are rebuilding or have rebuilt in the tornado recovery zone.

"We were really excited about the participation we had in picking up the application and we're really pleased with the four applicants we have because they are really good, exciting businesses," Edgeworth said.

Copies of the commercial revolving loan program's 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 application includes a map for quick reference on eligible locations, and applicants can contact the city at 205-248-5700 with questions about a property's eligibility.

The Chamber of Commerce of West Alabama, through the EDGE business incubator in downtown Tuscaloosa, has offered services including help with developing business plans and providing answers to questions about filling out financial information on the loan application.

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

Download the City of Tuscaloosa's commercial revolving loan program application.

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