St. Paul Offers Loans to Lowertown Businesses

Qualified small businesses may receive up to $10,000 to help them remain open amid construction of the Central Corridor light-rail line.

The City of St. Paul on Tuesday announced a bridge loan for Lowertown neighborhood businesses, providing early access to $60,000 of the $1.5 million Central Corridor “Ready for Rail” small business loan program.

Qualified small businesses may receive an interest-free loan of up to $10,000 to help them remain open amid construction of the Central Corridor light-rail line connecting Minneapolis and St. Paul.

The loan program was announced in July as part of the “Ready for Rail” initiative, and St. Paul officials made some of the money available sooner than planned for Lowertown businesses-which are already experiencing the effects of construction.

Depending on the availability of resources, some portion of individual loans may be forgiven.

“Lowertown businesses needed help and we responded,” St. Paul City Councilman Dave Thune said in a statement. “Owners needed access to this money before other businesses along University so we worked together and came up with a creative solution.”

To quality for a loan, a business must be an independent, for-profit business with fewer than five locations. It must be located on the Central Corridor line or on the first block of cross street where the business can demonstrate significant barrier access due to construction.

The 11-mile Central Corridor light-rail line is a $957 million project that will connect downtown Minneapolis and downtown St. Paul along University and Washington avenues. It will include 16 new light-rail stations and share five existing stations with the Hiawatha line in Minneapolis. It is scheduled to be completed in 2014.

-Melissa Loth