A new $1.1 million revolving loan program has been launched that aims to help Baton Rouge area small businesses recover from the COVID-19 pandemic.
The fund, a partnership between the Baton Rouge Area Chamber, TruFund and the U.S. Economic Development Administration, provides up to $250,000 for businesses, specifically those with 50 employees or fewer and revenue of less than $3 million. The loans will have terms extending from 6 to 60 months, with interest rates between 0 and 10%. In some cases, loans have closed in 30 days. As businesses pay back their loans, that money will be used to issue new loans.
The program is focused on businesses hurt by the pandemic, but Kim Carter Evans, vice president and regional managing director for TruFund, said companies that have done well are also eligible for loans.
“Some businesses actually thrived and they need access to capital to sustain growth,” she said.
TruFund is a nonprofit community development financial institution that provides capital to small businesses and nonprofits.
Craig Gehring, founder and chief executive officer of MasteryPrep in Baton Rouge, said he got a $50,000 loan from TruFund seven years ago, when the test preparation company was growing so fast he couldn’t keep up with the expenses.
“They took the time to understand our business; they took the time to understand our needs and helped us navigate that whole path,” he said. “It was a total life saver for the company.” At the time of the loan, MasteryPrep had less than $300,000 in revenue; now the company has about $10 million in annual revenue.
Michael DiResto, BRAC executive vice president, said the goal of the loan program is to create more success stories like MasteryPrep.
“You can’t take advantage of opportunity if you don’t have the capital,” he said. “We hope this dramatically reduces the barriers to success.”
To apply, contact TruFund Business Development Officers Jay Gaudet at firstname.lastname@example.org or Juan Nathan at email@example.com. Small businesses can also call the TruFund Louisiana office at (504) 293-5550 or visit trufund.org.