Saint Louis, Mo. — A partnership between the state and private business developers is going to provide at least $1 million in no-interest loans to businesses negatively impacted by Ferguson, Gov. Jay Nixon announced on Thursday.
“When it comes to the broader effort to mend what has been broken and build a more just and prosperous future for this region, our work is just beginning and our commitment is long term,” Nixon told reporters at a press conference.
Clint Zweifel, Missouri’s State Treasurer and a native of Ferguson, said the state would contribute $250,000 to the fund, which was specifically aimed at keeping small businesses open in Ferguson. The loans will be available to businesses for rent, payroll, utilities and other expenses.
“These loans are designed to cut out the red tape for these folks first and foremost,” Zweifel said. “But there’s also the goal of getting these loans to people who may have been cut out of the credit market. When you walk around in Ferguson, there’s mostly a feeling of optimism – people are asking us what they can do to keep doing, they aren’t telling us they are packing up and giving up.”
The St. Louis Economic Development Partnership, which ties city and county business leaders together for regional goals, will administer and oversee the loans, and also contributed $250,000 to the cause. The St. Louis Regional Chamber contributed $250,000 and a coalition of local banks will donate the final $250,000.
A website will be ready as early as next week to allow business owners to apply for loans online. Zweifel said the loans would likely be capped at small amounts, in the range of about $10,000, to make as many available to local businesses as possible.
“We want shop keepers to know we are not just here for today or tomorrow or next week,” said Rodney Crim, President of the St. Louis Economic Development Partnership. “We know there will be curves ahead for them. But we will be there to make sure to help them get back what they lost.”
The Small Business Relief Program is already taking questions from locals and distributing information around Ferguson. Businesses interested in qualifying for the program should call 314-206-3225 or email recoverySTL@stlregionalchamber.com