Northwest Georgia Regional Commission sign NWGA

The Northwest Georgia Regional Commission, with a Rome office on Jackson Hill, served more than 1,500 residents of the 15-county region through a single workforce development program during the last fiscal year.

Small business owners across the region have yet another source of financial assistance during the ongoing COVID-19 pandemic, thanks to a grant from the federal government.

The Northwest Georgia Regional Commission has a pool of $500,000 to distribute from the U.S. Economic Development Administration’s Revolving Loan Fund program. EDA is an agency within the U.S. Department of Commerce.

Micro-loan funds, ranging from $3,000 up to $50,000, are available with low-interest terms for up to seven years.

The funds have been made available specifically to help with the “sudden and debilitating loss of revenue” caused by the coronavirus pandemic.

“We’re still putting together a fact sheet,” said Jennifer Whorton, the loans program officer at the Northwest Georgia Regional Commission. “We’ll have to look at their financials for the last two years and see how they differ from the first six months of this year. I would go over that individually with people.”

She said the loans are designed to get people moving again and not intended to be for long-term purchases of equipment or something of that nature.

Loans below $10,000 may be made without collateral although a personal guarantee, essentially the same thing as a signature loan, will be required. Loans in excess of $10,000 will require some sort of collateral.

Whorton said amounts in excess of $50,000 would be considered.

The regional commission has a two-year window during which it will distribute the grant funds.

As the funds are repaid, the money goes back into a revolving loan fund that is administered through the regional commission. Once the initial two-year window for this specific loan program is over, the loan funds could be used for purposes not directly linked to COVID-19.

Companies interested in an application can email Whorton at jwhorton@nwgrc.org.

The city of Rome is still taking applications for small business grants of up to $5,000 to offset COVID-19 related losses.

Grants administrator Courtnay Griffin in the Community Development Department said the city has already awarded 20 grants and has enough funding for 31 more.

The city received a $256,000 grant from the Community Development Block Grant program as part of the CARES Act relief program for its aid package.

“We have helped several different types of businesses, ranging from restaurants and retailers to auto repair shops,” Griffin said. “Most recipients are using the funds to pay their rent and or utilities.”

People interested in the city loan program can reach the Community Development Department at 706-236-4477.

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