Non-Profit Approves First Wave of COVID-19 Emergency Leans to Small Businesses
Huntsville, Alabama – April 30, 2020:
Huntsville-based non-profit Neighborhood Concepts, Inc. (NCI), acting through its subsidiary the North Alabama Revolving Loan Fund, LLC, has approved 13 loans totaling $287,500 for north Alabama small businesses who are experiencing hardships related to COVID-19. “Our small business made the decision to close temporarily the first week that Alabama was hit by the COVID-19 school closures; and before the week was out, NCI reached out to us to see what we needed,” said Caitlin Lyon of Pizzelle’s Confections who has worked with NCI in the past. “The line of credit allows us more flexibility, which was important given the uncertainties right now. As the Governor begins slowly lifting restrictions to reopen Alabama, we're in a better position to reopen and use the line of credit on our timetable to help,” said Lyon.
The non-profit, who has been providing access to capital to small businesses in the Tennessee Valley since 2013, knew from their experience working with local businesses that many would lack the resources to weather the storm created by the COVID-19 closures and shut-downs. In response, NCI rolled out a COVID-19 Emergency Line of Credit in late March designed to offer up to $25,000 to help small businesses cover operating expenses in instances where their monthly income is insufficient to cover their monthly obligations due to circumstances related to COVID-19. Laurel Rose of Such a Good Dog, an obedience training facility, was referred by an existing NCI client. “We closed for what we thought would be a couple of weeks. When it stretched beyond that, and the SBA bogged down, the line of credit allowed us to pivot to online classes and continue training. And the process was painless,” said Rose.
“From the day we announced the program, we’ve been fielding a large volume of inquiries,” said NCI’s Loan Fund Manager, John Thornton. “As expected, the majority of the inquiries have been from restaurants, salons and other service industries who have either been forced to close or modify their business model during the pandemic,” according to Thornton.
To date, NCI has approved loans to 4 restaurant or food service companies, a dog obedience training facility, a pet boarding facility, a local transportation broker, a car wash, home repair, and real estate companies, a Department of Defense contractor and a company providing sign language interpretation. Of those approved, 62% were minority or women-owned businesses, 12 loans were to businesses in Madison County and 1 loan was made to a Marshall County business. Although one loan was made to a business that opened last year, the average age of the businesses funded was 10 years and 2 of the loans approved were made to businesses that have been in operation for over 20 years. “From what we have seen so far, the magnitude of COVID-19 has been significant and is touching a wide range of businesses. We have been encouraged by the optimism and ingenuity of these businesses who are
finding ways to respond and adapt to keep their business afloat, maintain staffing levels and continue to provide the local services that enhance the quality of life in our communities,” said NCI Executive Director Mary Ellen Judah.
NCI is deferring monthly payments for its existing clients and continues to accept applications from north Alabama businesses who are experiencing a hardship. Loans of up to $25,000 are structured as a non-revolving 6-month line of credit at a fixed rate of 5%. Borrowers must have been in business for at least 12 months and be able to meet certain other eligibility requirements. Visit www.neighborhoodconcepts.org for additional information and to start the application process.
Neighborhood Concepts, Inc. is a Huntsville non-profit with a 30-year history of strengthening communities through the development of affordable housing and advancement of economic opportunity for underserved populations and in underserved communities. In 2015, NCI’s revolving loan fund was certified as a Community Development Financial Institution or CDFI by U. S. Treasury. To date, NCI has provided over $2,000,000 in capital to small businesses and entrepreneurs in North Alabama.
Mary Ellen Judah
(256) 534-0075 Ext. 402
(256) 348-8658 (Mobile)