By Jacob Mulliken Messenger-InquirerJan 10, 2021

The Green River Area Development District has streamlined its microloan process geared toward aiding small businesses and nonprofits affected by COVID-19.

The funding is available for those entities that have been negatively impacted by COVID-19 in GRADD’s seven-county region of Daviess, Hancock, Henderson, McLean, Ohio, Union and Webster counties.

GRADD was awarded $3.3 million through the United States Department of Commerce’s Economic Development Administration as part of a total $11.6 million announced by the department on Aug. 27 that was disseminated throughout the commonwealth to address the woes of small businesses impacted by the pandemic. The money is a revolving loan fund.

Of the $3.3 million, about $635,000 has been divvied out since July, leaving roughly $2.69 million left. GRADD has two years from the date the money was awarded to them by the EDA to exhaust the funds or risk losing the remainder, said Joanna Shake, GRADD executive director.

Through the plan, between $5,000 to $250,000 can be applied for.

Aspects of the plan include zero interest for the first 12 months, waiving the application fee, deferrals of principal and/or interest payments for up to 12 months as well as reduced borrower equity and collateral requirements.

The new process that was approved by the GRADD Executive Board in November allows Shake and certain members of the GRADD team to make the determination for the microloans without seeking board approval. With the new plan in place, Shake hopes that the turnaround for awarding eligible applicants will be seven to 10 days.

Those applying for larger grants will still have to go through the traditional channels, she said.

“The microloan process is streamlined and simpler,” she said. “We were using our normal process and realized that we weren’t moving as quickly as business needed us to move. The board has empowered us to be able to make these decisions without their approval so that we can act more quickly and serve those that are desperate for aid.”

While the microloan program focuses on all small business and nonprofits in the GRADD region, Shake hopes that they will see an influx of minority-owned business apply to aid, she said.

“Our hope is that this assistance program will potentially encourage more minority-owned businesses and small businesses, in general, to come into our region seeking opportunity,” she said. “We need to engage more people in those communities and I feel, if this is a potential mechanism, then we should try our best. We are excited to offer this opportunity and hope business owners in all seven of our counties will take advantage.”

For more information regarding the loan program visit www.gradd.com.

Jacob Mulliken, 270-228-2837, jmulliken@messenger-inquirer.com