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To get loans to more businesses, Charlotte breaks down barriers (access required)

By Bea Quirk A Charlotte loan program that has languished the last two years is expanding its reach, as City Council members hope to help needy businesses weather the withering recession. For the first time, the city’s business-equity loans will be available to some types of businesses throughout the city. To date, only businesses in specific geographic areas could get the loans. At its meeting this week, the Charlotte City Council voted 10-1 to expand the program for two years. The expansion is in response to the devastating toll the recession has taken on the city’s small businesses. Unemployment in Mecklenburg County was 11.7 percent in January. The loan program, which fills in gaps when banks will not lend the full amount a company is seeking, began in 1992 with a fund to help small businesses in five low-income corridors: Beatties Ford Road, North Tryon Street, Rozzelles Ferry Road, Wilkinson/Freedom Drive and the Eastland Mall area.

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