City loans for small businesses good idea

Getting a small business off the ground can be challenging. Money is needed for materials, employees, facilities and paying obligations.

Loans can provide help and play a crucial role in whether the business can survive during the start-up.

A new loan program through the city is intended to help small businesses get the beginning they need. The city has about $100,000 left in federal funds that helped it recover from the 2008 flood, and the Columbus Small Business Loan Program is offering that money and technical assistance to help small and emerging businesses.

Loan amounts range from $5,000 to $20,000, with 1 to 4 percent interest and monthly repayments. The money can be used for working capital or equipment.

Eligible private businesses must have 50 or fewer employees and less than $1 million in projected gross revenues.

This program is a good investment and aligns well with state efforts to aid entrepreneurs in the technology field.

Columbus has been participating with Launch Indiana in a state initiative to create an online map with lists of resources for tech-based entrepreneurs. Columbus was among several communities that agreed to be surveyed. Survey answers collected in about 30 interviews revealed beneficial resources to include on the map, but also the wishes of businesses. One expressed desire was the creation of a local venture capital fund to provide seed money to startup businesses.

The city’s loan program will provide the same type of support as a venture capital fund that entrepreneurs need.

The greater benefit, however, is the contributions the small businesses will make to the local and regional economies when they are up and running, and providing jobs, goods and services. That’s a return on investment we like to see.