City expands eligibility for CARES loan fund

·2 min read

Jun. 2—The city of Kokomo has broadened the type of business eligible for a federally funded revolving loan fund in an attempt to extinguish the remaining funds before it loses them for good.

Now, virtually every type of small- to medium-sized private business in Howard County seeking to retain or expand its employee base and that was affected in some way by the COVID-19 pandemic are eligible to receive a revolving loan ranging between $15,000 to $150,000 at an interest rate of 2.6% from the city's CARES Act revolving loan fund.

According to updated terms provided to the Tribune by the city, businesses from the following industries are now eligible:

* Industrial

* Manufacturing

* High-tech services

* Retail/ service

* Health care/ fitness

* Environmental

* Alternative renewable energy

* Transportation

* Distribution centers

Previously, only businesses in the manufacturing and technology industries were eligible.

The loan fund, which was created with federal money from the passage of the CARES Act, saw initial success with the city in December, approving a seven-year $280,000 loan to AndyMark to retain jobs and expand its business as it faced struggles due to the pandemic canceling robotics competitions.

But the limited type of business sector eligible for loans proved to be just that.

Since the AndyMark loan a year and a half ago, the city hasn't issued any others.

Because of that, the city lost 25%, or $165,000, of the $660,000 granted through the pandemic relief program because it did not loan out at least 75% of its allocated funds by April. After deducting for administrative costs and adding around $40,000 of already revolved money, the city currently has $151,000 to loan out still.

The city's lack of doling out CARES revolving loan funds is not for lack of interest.

Julie Robbins, development specialist for the city, said the Development Department has had calls from businesses inquiring about the revolving loan fund, but that the city has had to turn them down for this specific loan fund because they weren't a business in manufacturing and technology industries.

Now, with relaxed criteria, which garnered approval of the RLF board, the Board of Public Works and Safety and the U.S. Economic Development Administration, the city is hoping it will be able to dole out the remaining $151,000 because if it fails to by July 27, it loses whatever it hasn't loaned out.

With the broadening of the eligible businesses and the attractiveness of a 2.6% interest rate at a time when interest rates are trending upward, the city and RLF board hopes it will be able to find some takers.

Tyler Juranovich can be reached at 765-454-8577, by email at tyler.juranovich@kokomotribune.com or on Twitter at @tylerjuranovich.