The North Central Massachusetts Development Corporation and ReImagine North of Main have announced that they are collaborating on an effort to expand financing to entrepreneurs and existing small businesses in the North of Main neighborhood in the City of Fitchburg. ReImagine is providing a grant of $25,000 for a loan loss reserve that will be leveraged with capital from the North Central Massachusetts Development Corporation to provide micro-loans of up to $50,000. The fund will be focused upon assisting ventures which seek to locate or are already located in the North of Main neighborhood, with priority given to the Main Street commercial district. This project supports existing efforts around revitalization of the downtown business district and helps stimulate new entrepreneurism and investment in the North of Main.
Eligible loan participants may include any existing venture or new venture that proposes to add value and diversification to the business climate of the North of Main neighborhood and/or create jobs in the community. Special consideration will be made to restaurants, specialty foods, shoe and apparel stores, art galleries, entertainment coffeehouses, and creative-based businesses including graphic design, music and video production. Loans made can be used for working capital, leasehold improvements, machinery and equipment, furniture and fixtures, and refinancing of business credit card debt. The interest rates are flexible, but generally close to the current fixed market rate.
The organizations anticipate that the collaboration will support 3-6 loans to North of Main businesses that will mitigate lender risk and reduce borrowing costs for businesses and create 1-2 new businesses on Main Street through start-up costs supported by the fund.
“We are excited to partner with ReImagine North of Main to expand economic opportunity in the community,” said Roy M. Nascimento, IOM, President and CEO of the North Central Massachusetts Chamber of Commerce. “This collaboration will allow the North Central Massachusetts Development Corporation the ability to provide more microloans to small and emerging businesses and support collective efforts in the community focused on economic development.”
The collaboration also seeks to engage with the private sector and municipal plans to connect financing resources with opportunities in and around the North of Main to improve entrepreneurship.
“Fitchburg’s downtown, through the many efforts of our City, community partners, and the business community, is on the rise thanks to coordinated efforts like this,” said Patricia Pistone, ReImagine North of Main Coordinator and Vice President of Planning at Montachusett Opportunity Council. “We hope these funds can be used to further investment in Main Street by attracting unique new businesses. ReImagine North of Main is very excited to be a part of an opportunity that will contribute to the long-term success of the City and, more importantly, its residents.”
The funding originated from the Federal Reserve Bank of Boston’s Working Cities Challenge Initiative, a grant program designed to advance collaborative leadership in smaller, postindustrial cities to transform the lives of their low-income residents. ReImagine North of Main received $150,000 in tactical funds to support strategies to support the revitalization of the downtown area and surrounding neighborhood.
This financing initiative was developed to support the City of Fitchburg’s efforts to support downtown revitalization. Tom Skwierawski, the City of Fitchburg’s Executive Director of Planning and Community Development, stated that “Fitchburg is a place that cultivates entrepreneurship, a place where prospective businesses feel they can make their dreams a reality. We will continue our efforts to become more business-friendly and are happy to join with committed partners—like ReImagine and the North Central Massachusetts Chamber—who, through programs like this, will help us make it happen.”
For additional information or to inquire about a loan, please call 978.353.7607 or visit www.choosenorthcentral.com