North Liberty Giving Loans to New and Expanding Small Businesses

By Jillian Petrus, Reporter

Tools

By Jaime Sharer

NORTH LIBERTY, Iowa - North Liberty has set aside $75,000 in general funds each year for the next three years to lend to small businesses.

These can be small business operations looking to open in North Liberty or expand within the city. Interested business owners can apply for up to a $25,000 loan.

The plan is for this to be a revolving loan meaning, after the third year of general funding, the city expects the loans paid back by previous businesses in the program to replenish funds for future years.

The ultimate goal is to fill in financial gaps for small businesses trying to find a little more start up cash to build their confidence.

We Run is a new locally owned fitness store along Highway 965 in North Liberty. Owner Kris Tharp knows it will be a perfect fit in North Liberty.

"Advertising and marketing is huge and my budget is very, very small,” Tharp said. “Right now we’re eight weeks in and our cash flow for a new start up young business is pretty low.”

While Tharp has not applied for the Small Business Development Program, she says she knows how important it is for small businesses to take large strides fast with competitors in Cedar Rapids and Coralville.

City Administrator, Ryan Heiar, also understands the struggle.

"I think it's still tough for small businesses to really get what they need,” said Heiar. “The biggest challenge out there from what we’re hearing is just the availability of cash.”

Heiar says North Liberty is looking for smart, innovative and creative ideas that will add to the work force. The interest rates and size of the loans will vary based on each business plan and that owner's particular financial need, so that small business, like We Run, can keep right on going.

"We are just looking at this as another tool to assist small business in our community and those looking to come to our community,” Heiar says.

A committee will review applications and submit recommendations to the city council who will then vote to approve the loans.

The Small Business Development Program starts in 2013 and is now accepting applications.
http://northlibertyiowa.org/wp-content/uploads/2012/05/Small-Business-Development-Program-guidelines.pdf

Application Procedure
Applications for assistance must be submitted to:

City of North Liberty
Attention: Small Business Development Program Review Committee
PO Box 77
3 Quail Creek Circle
North Liberty, Iowa 52317

City staff will review the application for completeness and accuracy. After review, the application will either be returned to the applicant with deficiencies noted or forwarded to the Small Business Development Program Review Committee. The Review Committee will consist of the following members: 1) the North Liberty City Administrator or designee; 2) a North Liberty City Council person, as appointed by the Mayor; 3) a member of the North Liberty Development Group; 4) a representative from the John Pappajohn Entrepreneurial Center; 5) a local small business expert as appointed by the Mayor. The Review Committee will have 30 days from receipt of a full and complete application to review it and make a decision. That decision may include:

• Submitting the application to the North Liberty City Council with a recommendation for approval with or without conditions and suggested terms of the loan.
• Request from the applicant additional information or clarification of information submitted as part of the application.
• Denying the application for consideration for funding. The North Liberty City Council will consider the Review Committee’s recommendations at its next regularly scheduled meeting.
The City Council may:
• Approve the loan with the terms and conditions recommended by the Review Committee.
• Reject the loan request.
• Defer action until additional information and/or clarification is received. After the North Liberty City Council makes a decision, City staff will notify the applicant of the decision.
NOTE: The applicant must agree to allow the Loan Review Committee to research the company’s history, make
credit checks, contact the company’s financial institution(s) and perform other related activities necessary for
reasonable evaluation of the application. In the event inaccuracies, omissions, or errors are found, the Loan
Review Committee has the discretion to determine what action it shall be take.

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