Last week, on April 18, the Montgomery County Council unanimously approved Bill 49-16 that will create a County microloan program that would provide loans from $500 to $15,000 for County residents needing additional help to start small businesses. Council President Roger Berliner, along with Councilmembers Nancy Navarro and Tom Hucker, were the lead sponsors of the bill. Councilmembers Marc Elrich, Nancy Floreen, Sidney Katz, Craig Rice and Hans Riemer were co-sponsors of the bill.
Nationally and locally, micro businesses have been found to improve the economic well-being and self-sufficiency of individuals who often find themselves in low wage jobs, but have the creativity and desire to own and operate a wide variety of businesses.
“Our County has a growing number of individuals who possess both the skills and desire to start small business enterprises, but lack access to the small amount of necessary seed capital,” said Council President Berliner. “This legislation will help ensure that those individuals have every opportunity to succeed and prosper, and I look forward to seeing the positive real life impacts it will make.”
The amended legislation calls for the Montgomery County Economic Development Corporation to administer a “culturally proficient” program. Loans would be limited to no more than $15,000, with the expectation that most loans will initially be in the $500 to $5,000 range. Loans would be limited to County residents who headquarter their business in Montgomery County. Loan recipients would be required to participate in educational and technical assistance that would be part of the program.
“Bill 49-16 serves an important purpose for entrepreneurs in the County by providing critical access to funding and technical assistance, as well as opening the door to opportunity that leads to self-sufficiency and job creation,” said Councilmember Navarro. “I am proud to have been a lead co-sponsor of this bill. As I met with local entrepreneurs and non-profit micro-lending providers who are already carrying out this vision, I got the chance to hear their stories of success and resiliency. The drive to thrive, grow and participate in the local economy is palpable and inspiring.”
The legislation was inspired by a meeting with the leadership of organizations that are currently working the most in this arena. During the meeting, the leaders expressed the belief that Montgomery County’s entrepreneurs would greatly benefit from the necessary technical assistance and access to microloans that can help aspiring entrepreneurs realize their dreams.
“Microlending is powerful because it expands access to capital for entrepreneurs who may otherwise be overlooked,” said Councilmember Hucker. “This new County microloan program will open up exciting new opportunities for many business owners.”