GOOSE CREEK — New small-business loans aimed at combating the financial hardships of the COVID-19 pandemic found their first recipients this week.
The Turning Page Bookshop and Acute Heating & Cooling were the first small-business owners to take advantage of “Kickstart the Creek,” a loan program and partnership between the city of Goose Creek and Charleston LDC that will serve as a direct line of help for businesses affected by the pandemic.
VaLinda Miller, owner of the Turning Page Bookshop, and Thomas and Octavia Edwards, co-owners of Acute Heating & Cooling, each received a $25,000 loan from the program.
The extra money means that Miller will be able to pay back rent on her building, while the Edwards will be able to keep all nine of their employees on the payroll for the foreseeable future.
“It helps us stabilize our business,” said Thomas Edwards, who started his heating and cooling business five years ago.
“We’ve actually done relatively well during the pandemic, but we haven’t been able to do some of the things that we’ve wanted to do to expand the business," he said. "This helps us take care of our employees, so we don’t have to lay anyone off. It helps us with operating costs, too.”
Miller echoed those sentiments.
“I can pay the rent again, and that’s huge for me,” said Miller, who has three employees. “Things are starting to get better, more people are starting to come back into the store, but this will help bridge that gap during the slow times.”
Charleston LDC is a nonprofit community development finance institution. It has provided more than $22 million in loans in its 42-year history to over 450 local small businesses that would not have otherwise been able to access capital.
“This was a way for us to help those small businesses in Goose Creek that needed a helping hand during the pandemic,” Charleston LDC interim CEO Cindi Rourk said. “What we try to do is provide capital to those small businesses that are unable to get loans from traditional sources and traditional banks.”
The program has loan amounts from $2,500 to $25,000. To qualify for the program, business owners must have a physical presence within the city limits and must demonstrate COVID-19 related impact to operations that were incurred from March 2020 and later.
Only small businesses with 25 employees or fewer can qualify for a loan.
“We want to help whoever we can because sometimes good people, who are working hard, can fall on tough times,” Goose Creek Mayor Greg Habib said. “These are good folks, who have worked hard to build a business, who through no fault of their own, have had a tough time. We want to help.”
The interest rate on the loans is 4 percent. Loans of $2,500-$10,000 are for 12 months, and 24 months for loans of more than $10,000.
Habib said he’s not sure how many businesses will take advantage of the program.
“We have enough money to help out 10-to-12 businesses,” he said.
The money for the loans came from the city’s general fund, which had a $2.6 million surplus. For more information, go to cityofgoosecreek.com.