City loan program brings opportunity to new salon
By Tara Massouleh | 09/24/2014 9:10am
CW | Belle Newby
“No one in Tuscaloosa has those dryers,” she said. “We’ve had people that just come by to look at the salon because they heard that we have dryers coming off the wall.” Frye was able to purchase B Flyy’s high-end dryers through the City of Tuscaloosa’s Small Business Revitalization Loan Program, a program put in place to encourage rebuilding in areas affected by the April 27, 2011 tornadoes. The Small Business Loan Program allots $20,000 to $50,000 in loans to businesses considered to be in the tornado recovery zone. These areas include the Alberta area, Rosedale area and the area around 15th Street and McFarland.
Businesses can use the loan money for anything from purchasing land to buying equipment to paying employees. After a one-year period, if the applicant remains in compliance with the terms of the loan, the borrowed money becomes a grant.
One stipulation of the program is all businesses that take advantage of the loan must create at least one low-to-moderate-income job. If the business falls within a census block group that has a 20 percent or higher poverty rate, the business’s jobs are all presumed to be low-to-moderate-income jobs. Savannah Howell, the community development program manager for the Office of the Mayor, has been working with the city’s recovery initiatives since the tornado. She said many of the businesses that have received funding through the loan programs fall in this category.
“Unfortunately a lot of the areas that were destroyed by the tornado were low to moderate income areas, which is awful that that happened, but it’s given us a chance to revitalize those areas as well,” she said.
Since its allotment in October 2012, the Small Business Revitalization Loan Program has been awarded to six businesses including Full Moon Barbecue on McFarland Boulevard, Southern Performance Strength Training on 13th Street and Tub’s Auto Sale in Rosedale.
In Tuesday night’s City Council meeting, Helping Hands Therapy and Short Stop, a grocer and supermarkets company, were approved for a $50,000 loan through the program. The two applicants were also awarded a $200,000 loan through Tuscaloosa’s Commercial Revolving Loan Program, which was set in place by the city’s Disaster Recovery Division in conjunction with the Small Business Loan Program.
Frye said she was initially hesitant to apply for the loan because of the complicated paperwork the application required. She began the process of applying for the loan in March 2014 and submitted her application by mid-April with the help of the city’s Senior Secretary of Recovery Operations Caramyl Drake.
Drake said the process of financing and starting a small business can be equally exciting and terrifying for first time business owners. She said working with small business owners to complete and eventually have their loan applications approved is rewarding to both her and those she has helped.
“I think this program, if applicants utilize everything that’s given to them, can really make their dreams come true,” she said. For Frye, who has been a hairstylist since she attended the University in 2005, opening her own high-end salon has been the dream come true Drake described. Frye said B Flyy Experience has received tremendous support from the community, including a visit by Councilman Kip Tyner, who stopped by for the salon’s July 26 ribbon cutting. Moving past her personal success with B Flyy Experience, Frye said the Small Business Revitalization Loan Program is important because of what it brings to the greater community.
“This initiative is pushing people to open businesses in the recovery area, in places they would normally not open business, and it’s giving people in those communities a chance to see businesses that they wouldn’t normally see,” she said.