At least two funds are helping Ferguson-area businesses get back on their feet following the violence and unrest that has affected the area since August.
The Small Business Relief Program, announced in late August, offers no-interest loans of a minimum of $1,000 to a maximum of $15,000. Businesses in Ferguson, Dellwood, Jennings and unincorporated St. Louis County that have been damaged or economically affected can apply.
The $1 million program is a public-private partnership. The state of Missouri, the St. Louis Regional Chamber, the St. Louis Economic Development Partnership, and a coalition of several local banks each contributed $250,000.
"We were really happy to do that and establish the program quickly and get businesses the funds they need back in August, basically just to keep their doors open," said Spencer Girouard, spokesman for Missouri Treasurer Clint Zweifel.
He said so far the program has loaned out $492,500 to 51 businesses. They have up to five years to pay the loans back and don’t have to begin making payments for 12 months.
Missouri Secretary of State Jason Kander announced the privately funded initiative in early December, committing $25,000 of his campaign contributions. This week he said the effort has raised $108,000 so far, including $25,000 donations from World Wide Technology and Stifel Nicolaus. Another $40,000 has come in on-line at GoFundMe.com.
"It really gives you a shot of optimism about people in general and the St. Louis community the way people have responded to this," Kander said. "Just the other day someone gave $3,000 online anonymously."
Kander said their original goal was to raise $150,000, but he now expects to exceed that. All of the money goes into the Reinvest North County Fund, which has been giving grants to small businesses in Ferguson, Dellwood and Jennings since August.
The fund is housed at North County Inc., which has formed a committee to decide where the money should be allocated. President and CEO Rebecca Zoll did not immediately return calls seeking comment on how much money has been given to area businesses.
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