The Lakewood Urban Enterprise Zone Microloan Program, once capped at $25,000, is now accepting applications for loans up to $35,000 this year.
Patricia Komsa, executive director of the Lakewood Development Corporation, noticed how the recession increased job seekers' interest in entrepreneurial endeavors.
"New businesses are moving into Lakewood each week to join the UEZ Microloan Program," Komsa said. "In recognizing the growing need to improve small business development and create new jobs, we chose to allocate additional funds to the program in order to attract more entrepreneurs."
Eight Lakewood businesses were recently awarded microloans ranging from $20,000 to $35,000 each: Cleanstock, a paper and plastic goods company; Park Ave Appliances; Daily Deals on 2nd; His Place, a men's clothing store; Aqua Custom Creations, which designs custom aquariums; Aqua Flow, a roofing and siding company; the CPA firm J.D. Hutman; and GN Paints & Coatings.
The microloan program, a subdivision of the Financial Assistance Program with the UEZ Authority in Trenton, provides small businesses with loans larger than $5,000 with a 3.5 percent interest rate.
Loans can be used for expansion, redevelopment, working capital, and purchasing supplies and machinery.
Jack Lench, owner of Aqua Flow since 2006, plans to use the microloan to expand his business to accommodate larger commercial jobs.
"The core of our business is right here in Lakewood," Lench said. "There's plenty of business from buildings, home owners, property management companies, and health care facilities coming to us for gutters."
With a 95 percent success rate, past microloans have managed to revitalize the town of Lakewood without costing a dime.
"The repayment of previous microloans has resulted in 'second-generation funds' that are now being used to award the new microloans," Rabbi Weisberg, treasurer of the Lakewood Development Corporation, said. "In this way, the program is self-perpetuating. It does not cost Lakewood taxpayers anything."
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