CHARLOTTESVILLE, Va. (WVIR) - Small businesses in Charlottesville can qualify for help from the city thanks to a business equity loan fund that was approved by City Council.

The loan is available for business owners who may be disadvantaged and find it difficult or impossible to get a loan through a traditional bank. 

This new program could be a game-changer for minority-owned businesses in Charlottesville. The loans range from $5,000 for those looking to make small purchases, to $35,000 for business owners looking for more substantial funding.

“Having a low interest rate allows the business to borrow money and not have to pay back as much in interest over time and it’s just a really good opportunity,” said Charlottesville’s Chief of Workforce Development Strategies Hollie Lee.

Charlottesville partnered with Community Investment Collaborative to offer minority business with low interest loans. 

“In addition to providing the loan, the city is making it possible for the interest rate to be even lower than what we already offer,” said President of the Community Investment Collaborative Stephen Davis. “Our interest rates are all under 10 percent, which for a new business loan is pretty low.”

The Office of Economic Development says the rate has not been decided yet, but the goal is to establish it at five percent or less. The loans are available to businesses that have been in the city for six months or more.

“The monthly payments tend to be lower when the interest rate is lower as well, so it’s just less of a financial burden on that business over time,” Lee said.

Business owners say they’re excited about the opportunity and believe it can help minority businesses in the city grow.

“I would definitely say that resources are a need as a whole, but specifically with finances you can use that for getting proper business coaching, space, use it for marketing, or tightening up any business practices,” said founder and CEO of The Spill Teem Joshua René.

The Economic Development Office says there is still paperwork to complete before the city can allocate the funding. Interested people can reach out the Charlottesville City Hall and begin an application.