City funds loan program for business improvements

The City of Sonoma has resurrected a loan program to provide matching funds of up to $10,000 to business owners for to make building improvements.

The Business Improvement Loan Program was recently approved by the City Council, using one-time funding received from the state-imposed dissolution of redevelopment agencies. It replaces, on a smaller scale, a redevelopment program that was well utilized by local businesses to make physical upgrades.

“The loan program can be a key tool in assisting small businesses in moving forward with improvement projects that are important to their business viability, including those where state building code requirements can increase costs prohibitively,” said Laurie Decker, the city’s economic development program manager.

Designed to support business retention and creation, the program funds loans in five categories: building façades; disabled accessibility; energy and water efficiency; building rehabilitation; and historic building improvements. Businesses located within city limits can apply for matching loans of up to $5,000 per category and $10,000 overall.

The program has an overall cap of $50,000.

Decker said priority will be given to businesses who locate in buildings that are historic, or have functional obsolescence in building features, or have a history of vacancy, and to businesses that contribute to the diversity of the business mix, among other criteria.

Chain stores and other “formula businesses” as defined by municipal code are not eligible for the loan program, Decker said,

A similar program for façades and building rehabilitation is currently available through Sonoma County for businesses in the unincorporated areas of the Valley. For applications or more information on either loan program, or other resources for local businesses, visit SonomaValley4Biz.org or contact Decker at 327.7338.


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