Retailers are being enticed to downtown Rochester with the offer of loans with no payback for two years and business start-up assistance from Oakland University.
The micro loan program was announced last week and loans may be made starting in the fall, says Kristi Trevarrow, director of the Rochester Downtown Development Authority.
"Basically the idea is the DDA is putting in $100,000 and we're looking for private investors to fund an additional $400,000," Trevarrow says.
The fund will offer two-year loans of up to $50,000 with payback coming at the end of two years and a 12-percent interest rate, which is how private investors will see a return on their put-in.
"What it does is it gives time to get your business going," she says.
It also gives the retailers access to Oakland University INCubator's
"kitchen cabinet," she says. The incubator provides answers, guidance, connections, "areas where we identify issues where they need assistance before the end of the two-year period."
The requirement for the loan is to be a retail business operating in Rochester's DDA district, which is bordered on the north by Woodward Avenue, the west by Helen Street, the east by Elizabeth, and the south by Diversion.
Trevarrow says she and others behind the micro loan program have not located any other cities doing something similar.
"We're kind of the guinea pigs to see how something like this will work," she says.Source: Kristi Trevarrow, director, Rochester DDA
Writer: Kim North Shine