If you’re a small business in Wichita needing a loan to “get over that bump,” a new City of Wichita loan program may be the answer. 

The City of Wichita is now taking applications for their new PROPEL (Providing Resources & Opportunities for Proprietors, Entrepreneurs & Lenders) District 1 loan fund. The low-interest, short-term revolving loan program is designed to make access to capital more readily available to minority-owned and women-owned firms and businesses located in Wichita City Council District 1.

Business owners who qualify and are approved can receive up to $15,000 in loan funds at a 3% interest rate. Loans must be repaid within 36 months. Business owners must meet a set of eligibility criteria and must apply for the program. There are also requirements that establish how the funds may be spent.

Vice Mayor Brandon Johnson developed the fund by using a portion of Wichita City Council District 1’s proceeds from the sale of the Hyatt hotel. The City will also seek contributions to help grow the fund.

“I’ve heard from several businesses over the years that just needed $5,000, $3,000 or maybe $10,000 to help out,” Vice Mayor Brandon Johnson said. “This type of funding opportunity helps to fill those gaps to make sure that they can access the American dream.”

Do You Qualify

Qualifying businesses must be located within District 1 or the business owner must live within District 1.  Qualifying businesses must be for profit versus non-profit and have been in business for at least two years prior to applying.  With approval available to individuals with a credit score as low as 540, poorer credit isn’t an obstacle for this loan.  However, your loan has to be in great standing otherwise, including being current on all your financial obligations within nine months of the application. 

Of course, you must be able to demonstrate the ability to repay the amount you want to borrow. 

Besides being a non-profit, there is a large list of additional factors that makes a business ineligible for the loans.  Beyond the obvious like being engaged in illegal activity or operating a pyramid scheme here are a few not-so-obvious criteria that might disqualify you for the program: 

• Operating a passive and/or speculative businesses, such as owning buildings, managing and leasing residential land/or commercial real estate; or private equity firms and hedge funds.

• Having filed for bankruptcy within the past seven years.

• Operating a business that performs lending, that includes pawn shops and pay-day lending. 

• Religious and/or religious-promoting businesses don’t qualify.

• Operating a business primarily engaged in political or lobbying activities

• Being involved in an active lawsuit. 

Use of Funds

The loan funds can be used for:

  •  Office equipment, furniture, fixtures
  • Inventory
  • Supplies
  • Repairs/Renovations
  • Marketing/Advertising expenses (e.g., website-related expenses, business cards, signage)
  • Software
  • Printing
  • Postage

Fees (e.g., licensing, subscriptions, professional memberships, professional services):

Application Process

The application for the PROPEL program can be found online @ https://wichita.gov/Economic/Pages/propel.aspx.  In order to apply, you’ll need to have your financial records in order.  If you need help preparing your documents or completing the loan application, the site suggests a number of entrepreneurial support organizations that might be able to provide you some help.  Loan applications will be approved within 30 days.

Hats off to Christina Long of CML Collective, a minority-owned firm with experience creating and managing microloan programs, who partnered with the City to help develop the program. 

Other PROPEL partners include Network Kansas, Fidelity Bank, the Community Foundation, the South Central Kansas Economic Development district, the Federal Reserve Bank of Kansas and others.

The City of Wichita announced the creation of the PROPEL today. PROPEL will open for applications on Monday, May 24.

PROPEL.

More information will be posted at wichita.gov/propel on May 24.

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