New Loan Program Encourages Economic Growth in Newbo & Czech Village

By Jill Kasparie, KCRG-TV9

CEDAR RAPIDS, Iowa - A new program aims to spur economic development in the Heart of Cedar Rapids.

The Czech Village/New Bohemia Main Street District just kicked off what’s called a Revolving Loan Fund.

Businesses can get a $5,000 to $25,000 loan for up to ten years.

The Main Street Executive Director said state dollars and local contributions make up that fund, which currently sits at $62,500.

Then, as money goes to businesses, loan payments gain interest and “revolve” back out to provide payments to other businesses that apply.

It’s designed to help new businesses start up or to expand existing businesses.

Lou Thompson opened her shop, Village Meat Market and Café, about two years ago. She said business still fluctuates.

“It’s up and then down and up and down. So we are still in our infancy,” Thompson said.

Thompson is looking forward to the day when more shops and restaurants move in to Newbo and the Czech Village, bringing more people through her doors.

“That’s kind of, I think, what everybody’s consensus is, just hang tight and let’s get this thing rolling. Let’s get rid of the dead areas and the empty buildings,” Thompson said.

Jennifer Pruden in the Czech Village/New Bohemia Main Street office is working on just that, especially after demolitions from the flood.

“We have the potential for adding up to about 60 new store fronts throughout our district,” Pruden said.

Some vacant store fronts are also available. The executive director said this loan program is designed to help small businesses that often don’t qualify for other local or state incentives.

“It is a program that is that kind of stop-gap for the small businesses that are seen as a little bit more of a risky venture to provide some funding for their start up,” Pruden said.

She said it’s money that aims to keep the district buzzing with new jobs, businesses and density to ensure the historic neighborhood is thriving for the long run.

“You have to look at the big picture. It’s hard to look at the big picture, but if you hang on it comes,” Thompson said.

Businesses interested in the revolving loan fund can apply or find out more by clicking here.

l Comments: 319-398-8268; jill.kasparie@kcrg.com

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