A community loan pool could provide a boost for small startups.
The Whitehall Township Industrial and Commercial Development Authority and Nazareth Economic Development Commission are offering combined loan resources to help small businesses in Whitehall, Coplay, Catasauqua and Nazareth.
Howard Lieberman, executive director of the WTICD, said each lender is offering $100,000 for a total of $600,000 per year in the combined pool.
"There was a need for a small-business loan program in our area; none had sufficient lending," Lieberman said.
New businesses that apply for a loan will get a fair evaluation because the application will be reviewed by five banks and lenders, Lieberman said.
"The lenders understand that these are economic development loans," Lieberman said.
The community loan pool banks and lenders include Susquehanna Bank, People First Credit Union, Merchants Bank of Bangor, National Penn Bank and First Northern Bank and Trust. The WTICD also will provide $100,000.
The Nazareth-Bath Area Chamber of Commerce met with Lieberman and wanted to offer new opportunities for small businesses to expand and fill vacant storefronts in downtown Nazareth, said Tina Smith, president of the chamber.
“It’s a nice marriage between our chamber and economic development,” Smith said. “It’s a great tool to entice people to come in.”
At this time, no loan recipients have been finalized or approved, Lieberman said.
The lenders are most interested in offering loans that would foster new businesses and create new jobs, with an emphasis on better-paying jobs, he said.
"If we ended up having more than one application for a similar business, we would give priority to the businesses that create the higher-paying jobs," Lieberman said.
Examples of preferred businesses include small manufacturers and professional businesses such as medical facilities.
Lieberman said the community loan pool applications and guidelines soon will be online. Meanwhile, they are available at the Nazareth-Bath Area Chamber of Commerce, Whitehall Area Chamber of Commerce and Whitehall Township Municipal Building.
Anyone with questions about the loan pool can call Lieberman at 484-245-4098 or send an email to firstname.lastname@example.org.
Standard requirements to apply include personal financial statements and a business plan, Lieberman said.