A new micro loan program for small Baltimore businesses was announced by the city on Wednesday.
The new program, known as BaltimoreMICRO, will offer loans to local businesses between $5,000 and $30,000 to retail, service providers and contractors with less than $1 million in annual revenue and with a personal credit score of at least 650, according to a news release.
"Baltimore’s neighborhoods that have experienced growth and revival in the past few years are known not only for their unique homes and character, but also for their small businesses, including stores and restaurants," Rawlings-Blake said in the release. "They bring residents together and create a buzz that attracts people from throughout the region. We want that to happen in more of Baltimore’s neighborhoods, and we must do what we can to support that."
The loan program will be administered by the Baltimore Development Corporation, and is funded through a $250,000 grant from the Maryland Department of Business and Economic Development as well as well as a $125,000 contribution from the city.
Benn Ray, owner of Atomic Books, said that a small loan program like this could benefit local businesses like many of those in Hampden. He said that for years he’s been advocating for the city to put more effort into helping small businesses with a low interest rate loans, as opposed to spending money on conferences to lure large businesses like Walmart to the city.
"This sounds like a good idea and a good first step," Ray said.
But Ray also expressed concern about this proposed program being administered through the Baltimore Development Corporation.
"The Baltimore Development Corporation hasn’t always been small business friendly," Ray said.