Micro loans being considered to spark growth for Whitestown small businesses

WHITESTOWN, Ind. - Town leaders are close to finalizing a plan to help grow small business in town.

Officials are looking to offer micro loans to small businesses that would help business owners with capital investments and generate additional revenue for the business and the community.

Whitestown Town Manager Dax Norton said the town would have $50,000 through economic development funds to help businesses with buying land or equipment, or make improvements to their properties.

Funds would likely be used to help businesses in the town's Legacy Core, the original part of the town's downtown.

"The focus to help those who have a building in the Legacy Core, an older building, give them a program to help them revitalize the facade and the outside of their building," said Norton.

Helping with facade work was the town's original plan, through a matching grant program.

However, that was axed and the idea of a micro loan, a low-interest loan, would allow business owners to do a variety of things and allow the town to grow the funds that could be used to help more businesses in the future.

“$10,000 is typically that range that those businesses ask for," Norton said. "We don’t want to take over the role of private banks, we want to incentive.”

Businesses in Whitestown and all of Boone County already have access to micro loans through the Boone County Economic Development Corporation, which has $75,000 available for its program.

Whitestown town leaders thought starting their own program would increase how many businesses in their community could get get awarded similar funds, and sprout business quicker.

"They don’t have the history built up, they need other dollars to do that," said BCEDC deputy director Ben Worrell. "This micro loan program gives those small business owners or entrepreneurs the opportunity to get that capital they need to get over the step that is there.

Matt and Megan Cantrell were given a $15,000 micro loan through the BCEDC. They own Community Pet Healthcare, and are opening a new location next week along Whitestown's Legacy Core.

“Four years in, things are still sort of tough," said Matt Cantrell. "We don’t have all that money saved up yet, and without the micro loan, we wouldn’t be able to get this started as soon as we have.”

The second location, called Indy Pet CORE, will become the first stand-alone rehabilitation center for pets that isn't tied with a veterinarian office or a specialty hospital, according to the owners.

Another recipient through the county-wide program is Fundae's Ice Cream, which plans to open its doors in the spring of 2018.

Whitestown Pizza King owner Aaren Miller likes the idea of his town starting its own program that should help him and his neighbors.

“Revitalization to properties down here, to this part of town, would ultimately bring the smaller type of mom and pop shops, like me, give them a place to build a brand," said Miller.

Norton said the town's redevelopment commission would be responsible for reviewing micro loan applications, and choosing who would receive the funds. The redevelopment commission is expected to vote on the program on Monday, December 18.

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