published on March 23, 2020 - 1:12 PM
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The Tulare County Economic Development Corp. is unveiling a micro loan program and website to connect businesses with resources as part of its COVID-19 response.

Paul Saldana, president and CEO of the Tulare County EDC, said the corporation’s Business Capital Fund was started in only the last few months and hasn’t really been marketed until now. Consisting of the EDC’s own funds, it has an initial seed of about $150,000.

The micro loans are for around $5,000-$15,000 and are geared toward small businesses that may need help keeping their doors open or making payroll in the short term, Saldana said. A handful of businesses — many of them restaurants, retailers and service providers— have begun the application process, he added. Interest rates depend on credit worthiness but are within a few points of the prime rate, with terms as long as five years.

“This is really a more immediate response designed to bridge them through this,” Saldana said of the micro loan program.

The EDC also launched the website to help Tulare County businesses access a variety of resources from state and national sources, including the Small Business Administration.

Business owners can also find information on the site about the micro loans.

The Tulare County Public Health Branch announced there were four new cases of positive COVID-19 tests in Tulare County as of Monday, for a total of 16. That makes it the hardest hit Central Valley county in terms of infections. Dinuba, Porterville, Tulare, and Visalia are the communities that are impacted with positive cases.

Despite the crisis situation, Saldana said large economic developers are still actively trying to establish operations in Tulare County.

“We’ve seen the highest number of prospects we’ve had in years,” Saldana said.

He’s optimistic those businesses will continue their searches.

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