Loan program helps minority business owners

Local News

CHAMPAIGN, Ill. (WCIA) — Minority business owners in Champaign County are getting a boost.

The Housing Authority is launching a new loan program to give certain businesses a fair shot at being successful. It’s called the Bridges Enhancing Capacity program. 

The business owners who will receive these loans may not be qualified to get it anywhere else. Troy Deen knows the struggles of being a business owner. He says, “Usually when I do my projects, I do it all out of my pocket. It takes a toll on my household and it exposes your business.” 

He runs Magnet Maintenance Electrical in Champaign. On Friday, he was handed a check for $60,000. The Champaign County Housing Authority (HACC) and Hickory Point Bank dedicated $250,000 to the program. 

HACC Executive Director David Northern says, “Our main focus is minority contractors, disadvantaged contractors, and Section 3 businesses.” 

It’s for companies that have contracts with HACC projects. If they qualify, they’ll be given a 3% low interest loan to push their business forward.

Northern says, “When a contractor signs up for a contract, they have to have the labor and materials for the first few months in order to make sure they have the staff and the capacity to move forward.” 

Deen is working on two projects with the HACC. He’s experienced how tough it can be to start. He says, “A lot of these businesses have the sump pump but they don’t have the water. They’re basically giving us the water to go out there and compete and show we’re worthy of doing this work.” 

There are other barriers some business owners might face. Northern says, “A lot of the smaller or minority contractors don’t have the credit history to come to Hickory Point Bank and get a loan.”

This program is a gateway for them. Plus, the bank will also go through their business plan and help to structure their finances for the future. 

As the loans are paid back, all the money will go into refunding the program to help other contractors later on. 

Any qualifying business in Champaign County can apply. If you’re interested, you can contact HACC at (217) 378-7100 or email Executive Director David Northern at davidn@hacc.net 

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