Waterville has established a loan program to provide “forgivable” loans to business and property owners interested in creating new businesses or expanding existing businesses in the downtown district.
Through the new program, called the Downtown Forgivable Loan Program, business and property owners are eligible to apply for loans ranging from $15,000 to $50,000 to fund physical improvements, including façade work and interior renovations, equipment, and other fixed assets.
Priority will be given to projects that fill first floor vacancies and align with the target business uses identified through consumer, employee, and business surveys conducted by Waterville Main Street.
While structured much like traditional loans, they are very different in that borrowers will make interest-only payments and — provided they meet obligations established in their application creating jobs and filling a vacant space — the principal of the loan will be forgiven over time.
“The Downtown Forgivable Loan Program is another example of the city’s willingness to invest in the economic vitality of downtown, and we feel it has the potential to provide a big boost to existing and new downtown businesses,” said City Manager Michael Roy.
Funding for the loan program comes from the city’s downtown tax increment financing (TIF) fund. Waterville Main Street and Kennebec Valley Council of Governments will administer the loan program.
If deemed eligible, after applying to Waterville Main Street, the applicant will then fill out a formal application to be submitted to KVCOG, along with a $250 application fee. KVCOG will make the final decision regarding loan approval and will work with the applicant to finalize terms of the loan.
Once an applicant is awarded a loan, he or she will have thirty days to start construction or renovation work and/or improvements.
Funding is limited and the process will be competitive. For more information, applicants should contact Waterville Main Street at 680-2055.