Trouble Getting A Small-Business Loan? R.I. Program Fills That Gap

By Kate Bramson
The Providence Journal, R.I.

WWR Article Summary (tl;dr) A loan program in Rhode Island offers loans to “viable entrepreneurs” and small businesses that face difficulties obtaining adequate credit from traditional lenders. The Rhode Island Commerce Corporation has allocated $5.45 million to six lending agencies that now underwrite the loans or partner with banks to make the loans.

The Providence Journal, R.I.

Ruben Ogando needed financing help to buy new washing machines for his Providence coin-operated laundry and expand by moving his tailor shop into its own space across the street.

Paula Charleson created four flavors of organic chocolate bars that are GMO- and preservative-free and persuaded Whole Foods to sell her CocoFuel candy in all of the grocer’s Northeast locations. But she needed money to buy ingredients for the fledgling company in Cranston.

Robin Silva, manager of the Teddy Bearskins clothing and toy shop in Barrington, had a chance to buy the business where she’d worked for a dozen years.

None of these three people found their answer in a conventional bank loan.

In Silva’s case, for example, banks viewed the clothing and toy shop as a “start-up business” if a new owner bought it. That meant it wasn’t easy to get a traditional bank loan for the shop she now calls Piccolo, said Buck Harris, vice president at the Community Investment Corporation.

Silva turned to Bank Newport for a loan, and the bank referred her to the CIC, Harris said.

CIC, a nonprofit agency in Hamden, Connecticut, with a Providence office, has now made loans to eight Rhode Island businesses, including those owned by Ogando, Charleson and Silva.

CIC is among six agencies — five nonprofits and one for-profit enterprise — that the Rhode Island Commerce Corporation turned to last year as Gov. Gina Raimondo’s administration launched a small-business loan fund with $5.45 million.

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