City council seeks help for Toledo small businesses

Pam Weirauch serves lunch in her local deli.
Pam Weirauch serves lunch in her local deli.

TOLEDO, OH (Toledo News Now) – Toledo city council is considering creating a new micro-lending program to help small businesses in the city grow.

On Wednesday the council held a hearing to learn more about a proposal to team up with the Economic and Community Development Institute (ECDI) based in Columbus to start a new program to help business owners in Toledo. The program would cost the city about $125,000, but that money would go toward helping small businesses improve.

"It's more than micro-lending," said Inna Kinney of ECDI. "We're looking to provide training, one-on-one technical assistance, and give resources to small businesses, start-ups and existing businesses."

That assistance would benefit people such as Pam Weirauch, owner of Pam's Corner Deli, who hopes to one day expand her catering business.

"I turn away jobs all the time because they're too big," Weirauch said. "One of my problems is refrigeration…If I had the money – $4-5,000 – I would have a walk-in cooler, do more box lunches, and therefore have more employees."

If the city agrees to sign a 6-month agreement with ECDI, local businesses could start dipping into their substantial resource pool.

"We have money from the United States Treasury, money from the U.S. Department of Small Business Administration," Kinney said. "We have money from various banking partners."

The Toledo Regional Chamber of Commerce (TRCC) applauded the effort to find new lending opportunities for local employers.

"I think it's a very positive thing for the city," said Charlene Page of the TRCC. "It's definitely needed to fit that segment of business owners that won't qualify for traditional funding and it helps give them a leg up."

The city could approve the agreement as early as next week.

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