Despite the economy, the city of Cleveland is poised to assist its existing businesses and to reach out to businesses capable of bringing new jobs. An economic development team assembled by Mayor Frank G. Jackson continues to introduce new ideas and programs designed to benefit businesses and create jobs.
With money from federal and state grants, land sale proceeds, repayments of existing loans and previously issued bond funds, Cleveland has the funding to improve the city’s business climate without tapping the city’s general fund budget.
Approximately $20 million in funding has been approved by the administration and City Council for economic development programs.
For example, the Working Capital Loan Program and the Vacant Property Initiative were specifically designed to help businesses during the credit crunch.
The Working Capital Loan Program assists businesses that have had their credit lines reduced or have been turned down for additional credit. The program offers loans at 3 percent interest for up to $200,000 for up to a three-year term.
The City’s Vacant Property Initiative helps companies looking to expand by offering loans up to $1.25 million for the purchase of a building or for land and new construction. The city will forgive up to 45 percent of the loan.
“The most important thing to us, despite the credit crisis, is that we still have programs available and are still lending” says Mayor Frank G. Jackson.
The city is also offering assistance to those interested in leasing space by providing the landlord with a Vacant Property Initiative Loan for leaseholder improvements with the same forgiveness available. The loans are designed to help offset costs that do not add value, such as asbestos removal.
Perhaps more importantly, in light of the banking crisis, the loans reduce the banks’ loan-to-value ratio. (Previously, banks may have looked at a property and loaned up to 80 percent of the value. Today, they have reduced the amount to as little as 50 or 60 percent.)
The VPI program helps companies interested in taking advantage of today’s enticingly reasonable real estate pricing by providing the necessary financing. The city has approved 14 loans since the program’s implementation last year.
The mayor has also made significant strides in helping to expedite the processfor businesses interested in moving to the city of Cleveland. He’s challenging the Department of Economic Development to make it easier for any Cleveland-based business or business interested in moving to Cleveland to navigate the departments in City Hall.
The economic development team works with public service, building and housing and city planning, among others, to assist businesses with permits and approvals.
“We need our businesses to focus on their company, not move paperwork,” says Tracey A. Nichols, director of economic development. “Our economic development team works with other departments to get positive results.”
More information, including other available programs, brochures and applications can be found at www.city.cleveland.oh.us/