As Florida and other southern states recover from the financial impact of the pandemic, one program aims to ensure small businesses are not left behind.
The Southern Opportunity and Resilience (SOAR) Fund offers low-interest loans and free advice to businesses in underbanked communities, mostly in southern states.
Arturo Griego, owner and principal architect at G3, a design-build firm in Miami, said SOAR will help his company continue to grow in the coming year.
"It certainly helped us finish and get into a position where we're right now able to take more work," Griego explained.
The program is available to businesses and nonprofits with 50 or fewer full-time employees and that have experienced economic disruption due to the pandemic. It currently operates in 15 states and Washington, D.C.
So far, the initiative has distributed $11 million dollars to nearly 250 small businesses. About 80% of participants self-identify as businesses owned by either a woman or a person of color.
Caroline Yarbrough, strategy officer at Calvert Impact Capital, which works with the SOAR Fund, said the project will help small Florida businesses tap into new economic possibilities.
"The region of the South has an enormous amount of economic opportunity," Yarbrough pointed out. "But has been one of the places in the U.S. that has the lowest economic mobility."
While the program is open to businesses with up to fifty employees, 90% of the SOAR Fund loans so far have gone to businesses with ten or fewer full-time workers.
To be eligible for a SOAR Fund loan, a small business must meet the requirements detailed below. Please note that the pre-application should be completed and submitted by the owner of the business with the largest ownership interest, and that all owners with more than 20% ownership will be required to attest to the information provided.
There is no minimum credit score that is required under this program, but please note that each community lender may set its own credit score limits for the loan applications it reviews.
Businesses that are NOT eligible include, but are not limited to:
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