Believe it or not, Oceanside California is thinking about stepping in where some banks fear to tread. According to a recent piece on UTSanDiego.com, City Manager Peter Weiss and Economic Development Coordinator Tracey Bohlen are considering a tentative proposal to use $500,000 of a projected $1.3 million budget surplus to offer low interest loans to expand or open new small businesses in their city.
“We’ve had a lot of smaller businesses wanting to come up and open or expand, and they’re running into financial problems,” says Weiss. “We can attract business and keep them here for not a whole lot of money.”
Weiss and Bohlen understand that a thriving small business community creates jobs, vitalizes a community, and contributes to the tax base. What’s more, they understand that it doesn’t really take a lot of money to keep small businesses thriving. The loan program they’ll be presenting to the City Council on February 27 will include:
- Micro loans up to $30,000 to small businesses like restaurants to help make building improvements or buy equipment
- Gap financing loans up to $50,000 to back up bank financing they already have for construction, etc.
- Targeted tenant loans up to $100,000 to building owners who want to upgrade their property to make it more attractive to biotech and high-technology companies
Despite what we might be hearing in the news, there’s a lot of demand on Main Street for the financing they need to fuel growth and fund working capital. It would appear that the city leaders in Oceanside aren’t going to wait for the local banks within their community to step up, they’re going to do something themselves.
It’s too early to tell if Weise and Bohlen will be able to pull this off, but according to Bohlen, “We’re looking at doing a competitive rate, probably prime plus 2.5 to 3 percent, which would be a lower rate than (businesses) could get on the market.”
Aparently the Mayor, Jim Wood, and Councilman Jack Feller are on board. “If we have the ability and the money to help companies that need a little assistance, that’s something I’d be willing to look at,” says Wood.
That’s something I’d vote for.