City, Indy Chamber aim to raise $10M for rapid-loan fund for small businesses

Mayor Joe Hogsett and the Indy Chamber on Monday announced the creation of a rapid-release loan fund for small businesses in central Indiana that have been hurt by the COVID-19 outbreak. The goal is to raise $10 million for the fund.

Nearly $3 million has already been committed to the fund, including $1 million from Indianapolis-based Anthem Inc. and $1.5 million from the city of Indianapolis. The Indy Chamber said it is calling on the business and philanthropic community to help it reach its $10 million goal.

The city’s contribution includes $500,000 from the Indianapolis Local Public Improvement Bond Bank and $1 million from the Capital Improvement Board. The CIB funding has been earmarked for the food and beverage industry, which has been hit hard by restrictions related to the pandemic.

CIB-funded loans will offer working capital to existing food and beverage industry entrepreneurs to keep their businesses afloat, providing bridge loans while traditional financing or disaster recovery loans from the U.S. Small Business Administration materialize, which is expected to take four to six weeks.

“Our restaurants and bars are part of what fuels Indianapolis as a convention and event city,” Andy Mallon, executive director of the Capital Improvement Board, said in written comments. “We want to do our part to help our partners in the entertainment and restaurant industries be there to welcome our convention business back when it returns.”

Other initial funders include the Indy Chamber, which contributed $300,000, and LISC Indianapolis, which gave $75,000.

The announced commitments, combined with the loan fund’s existing $840,000 balance, bring the fund to just more than $3.7 million.

Businesses in the nine-county region will be eligible for loans. Loans will range from $1,000 to $25,000, depending on need.

The Rapid Response Loan Fund will be administered by the chamber’s Business Ownership Initiative (BOI) and other partners. BOI recently pivoted its focus to emergency assistance for small businesses affected by COVID-19 via free one-on-one business coaching and access to lending capital.

Indy Chamber staff, as well as faculty and alumni of the IU Kelley School of Business at IUPUI, leaders of the Indianapolis Bar Association, communications professionals at Vox Global, and other experts are on call to field small business questions via the Chamber’s Rapid Response Hub.

“Time is of the essence for local entrepreneurs and small businesses,” Indy Chamber CEO Michael Huber said in written comments. “While federal loans and tax credits will provide significant relief, our businesses need more immediate financial support. We are calling on all major employers, financial institutions, and philanthropic organizations to join us as we invest in the livelihood of our small business community.”

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