Fort Worth offering $2 million in microloans to small businesses impacted by COVID-19 pandemic

More help is on the way for Fort Worth small business owners impacted by the COVID-19 crisis.

The city announced a $2 million microloan fund to help with debts and payroll.

The program is the city teaming up with the People Fund group. The loans are to compliment federal assistance. Sixty percent of the loans will go to minority-owned businesses.

By some accounts, The Stockyards are the face of Fort Worth. But lately, the smile has faded.

Businesses like Maverick Fine Western Wear are all but shuttered struggling to keep afloat while the stay-at-home mandate plays out.

“Obviously being closed to the public, we are not seeing any foot traffic right now,” said Diane Simeroth with Maverick Fine Western Wear. “We’re still being available to our customers 10 a.m. to 4 p.m., seven days a week to do curbside pick-up and also to coordinate customer deliveries.”

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The latest action at Fort Worth City Hall aims to help small businesses like Maverick Fine Western Wear, which has 39 employees.

 The city and two outside financial institutions have put together a nearly $2 million fund through which it will offer microloans to small businesses located in Fort Worth. The loan amounts will average $15,000, but a max amount is $50,000.

“What we’re trying to do with this program is to provide a companion funding program that will compliment what small businesses can access through the federal program, the Paycheck Protection Program,” said Robert Sturns, Fort Worth Economic Development Director.

That is a prerequisite. The business must already have begun the process to access federal assistance. Although early Thursday, the government announced the paycheck protection program is on hold after approving nearly 1.7 million loans. Congress is now considering a request from the Trump administration for another $250 billion.

In the meantime, Fort Worth businesses remain hopeful for all the financial help they can get federally, state and locally. 

“People have to be creative right now with how they’re going to stay in business and really make it through this thing,” Simeroth said. “I don’t know enough about the microloan yet, but it sounds like something I plan on doing more reading about and seeing what kind of resource that is.”

Among the terms, businesses will need to be in good financial standing. The loans are zero percent interest for the first six months. After that, it’s 72 months of repayment at less than five percent. 

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