$300,000 grant to support recovering businesses
High River: Rotary International funding to provide low-interest loans
By: Don Patterson
| Posted: Wednesday, Jun 04, 2014 01:48 pm
High River businesses owners struggling to get back on their feet are getting a little help from the Rotary Club’s international arm.
The High River Rotary Club received more than $300,000 from Rotary International, which will fund low-interest loans for businesses still recovering from the flood.
“The idea here is to, over a fairly long period of time, to continue to supply support in the area for businesses that were affected by the flood,” said Harry Riva Cambrin, High River Rotary Club President.
The organization is providing $260,000 to go towards the loans. Recovering businesses will be able to borrow up to $30,000, with no payments for a year and low interest rates. As well, $60,000 will be used to fund a series of workshops and one-on-one coaching. The funds came out of an application from the High River Rotary Club for a Global Grant through Rotary International for High River flood recovery.
Community Futures Highwood will administer and oversee the funding and loans. The loan program is based on a program Community Futures started in High River last year.
John Lockhart, Community Futures Highwood general manager, said the loans funded by the Rotary grant will help businesses to get re-established or make immediate improvements.
“It will allow someone to go out and order inventory, replace equipment, enough to get their doors open again,” he said.
Lockhart expects the average loan to be around $24,000.
After the first year, businesses will have four years to repay the loan. As part of the program, interest rates will be set at five per cent, a low rate compared to what could be expected through other lenders.
Businesses interested in the loans will apply to Community Futures Highwood at www.cfhighwood.net.
The Rotary grant will also fund workshops for business owners modeled after a business boot camp held by Community Futures. Topics that are covered include business planning, marketing stress management, and risk and financial management.
Five meetings have already been held with a combined attendance of 65 people.
Lockhart said the Rotary funding will allow them to continue to host the meetings.
The Rotary funding has also freed up funds Community Futures had earmarked to work in High River it will now be able to direct to support business recovering in Turner Valley, Black Diamond and Bragg Creek. The organization will provide loans, similar to those available for High River, in the Turner Valley, Black Diamond and Bragg Creek areas. It has also received $150,000 from the provincial government to hire additional staff to provide training in this area.
One High River business owner said the loan program will greatly benefit businesses still trying to get back on their feet.
Marilyn Callaway, owner of Cottonwood Plaza in High River, borrowed money from Community Futures through the program used as a model for the Rotary grant.
She said she wouldn’t have been able to go on without the loan.
“I would be at a total stand still… this has been a blessing in my life, a huge blessing,” she said.
Callaway has six different tenants in the building near 8 Avenue in High River.
She wants to be able to get the building open once again to get her business and her tenants back on track.
Callaway has exhausted her own financial resources and she applied to the provincial Disaster Recovery Program (DRP), but hasn’t received anything yet.
She heard about the loan program offered by Community Futures and was able to borrow $30,000.