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Loan program to help Jonesborough businesses

By SERINA MARSHALL
Staff Writer [email protected]

Business owners in downtown Jonesborough will have access to a new financial opportunity
to purchase or renovate their property.

A loan project made possible by the First Tennessee Development District, part of the Northeast Tennessee Economic Development Corporation, will give Jonesborough business owners an opportunity to renovate, update or add equipment to their property using the Downtown Loan Program.

Already available to business owners in Erwin, Greeneville and Johnson City, the program provides low-interest loans to qualified borrowers.

At the loan check presentation held Friday at the International Storytelling Center, Ken Rea, deputy director for the First Tennessee Development District, said the Downtown Loan Program has a couple of benefits it will bring to the downtown Jonesborough area.

“The primary benefit is these are funds to help in two ways. One, if a business is purchasing a building and wants to do some renovations, they can get some bank financing, but we can help with the down payment, part of that,” Rea said. “And the example in our brochure is the bank doing a $144,000 loan, and they require $40,000 from business and we can put in $25,000 toward that $40,000 and the business only has to put in $15,000 versus $40,000.

“Hopefully we will be making loans to downtown Jonesborough businesses soon,” he added.

A check for $125,000 was presented to the town on Friday.

Rhea added the First Tennessee Development District made the decision to do this program back in the fall and have already had a Jonesborough business that wanted to repair their roof.

“We can do direct loans and use $14,000 to repair his roof,” Rhea said. “So, we’ve already done a loan to a business in Jonesborough. Just happened to work out that way.”

Jonesborough Mayor Chuck Vest said he looks forward to the benefits this program will provide the small business owners downtown.

“I think it’s going to allow our businesses to maybe buy some new equipment to help them expand their business which will improve their finances, but also allow them to hire some more personal as their business increases,” he said.

The success that Town Administrator Glen Rosenoff saw from the program in Erwin led him to begin looking into it for Jonesborough about a year ago.

“With him (Rosenoff) and Jonesborough Director of Tourism Cameo Waters working together, they finally brought it to fruition,” Vest said.

Rosenoff added he thinks the program will be a “huge success.”

“There’s money, there’s people, they want to invest in our downtown and now we’ve kind of put them together under one economic tool,” Rosenoff said.

Rhea’s goal for the loan program is to help businesses to get started and do all the repairs they need, and he explained that there are similarities with the new program and getting a loan through a bank.

“Typically, the business has to put together financial information similar to what you would put together for a bank,” he said. “We have to get the financial information. I have a loan committee that has to review the loan packet. Then we approve the loan. Sometimes there is some construction involved, so it takes a little bit of time. But we work with the business all through the process beginning to end.”

If you are a business looking for such a financial opportunity, please contact the First Tennessee Development District at (423) 928- 0224. Or you can contact Rhea directly at (423) 722-5098.