Washington Heights and Inwood Development Corporation Receives Loan and Grant From UMEZ

Date:    Thursday, April 9, 2015

A $400,000 loan and $75,640 grant from the Upper Manhattan Empowerment Zone to The Washington Heights and Inwood Development Corporation (WHIDC) will augment the capacity of WHIDC’s Business Operating Success System (“BO$$”) Micro Business Loan Program. The program currently primarily focuses on entrepreneurs and small businesses located Washington Heights and Inwood community of Manhattan, but is available to entrepreneurs throughout Northern Manhattan.

The UMEZ loan, with an interest rate of 1% and a term of five (5) years, will be used as micro loan capital and the $75,640 grant would be used to cover the costs of assisting, marketing, evaluating, monitoring and servicing loan applicants/awardees.

WHIDC was organized in 1978 to serve the residents and businesses in the Washington Heights and Inwood section of northern Manhattan. WHIDC’s initial program was centered on commercial revitalization and capital improvements to 181st Street. Other efforts included a housing development program, as well as the development of a marina/restaurant facility on the Hudson at Dyckman Street.

UMEZ offers microloans through partners like WHDIC that specialize in microcredit to individuals underserved by mainstream banking institutions” noted Kenneth J. Knuckles, President and CEO of UMEZ. “WHIDC’s BO$$ loan program fills the need for commercial loans in amounts under $50,000. Small loans of this size are nearly impossible to get from banks, the SBA and other community loan programs. This reality reduces the ability of northern Manhattan entrepreneurs with limited funds to start or maintain businesses. Due to cultural and language difference, the vast majority of micro-entrepreneurs will not travel outside of their community to secure business assistance, especially if their needs are less than $20,000. This capital provides micro business development services in their communities that will assist them directly. BO$$’s loan program has successfully filled that need for many years and we expect it will continue to do so with the support of UMEZ and other lending institutions.”

The BO$$ Micro Business Loan Program has made 387 loans totaling over $5,887,000 since the loan program's first loan in 1995. The size of those loans ranges from $100 to $50,000. Two thirds of these loans have gone to small storefront businesses with the balance going to street vendors, and in-home businesses. A third of their loans go to start-up businesses. Of the loans to individuals, 96% have gone to minority- owned and over 40% went to women-owned businesses. The current minimum loan is $400 with a maximum of $50,000 with an average interest rate of 6% per year.

Since its founding in 1996, The Upper Manhattan Empowerment Zone (UMEZ) has been a singular catalyst in the revitalization of Upper Manhattan. UMEZ’s investments, upwards of $220 million to date, have provided funding to numerous organizations, businesses and institutions that drive the local economy, create jobs, and add to the vibrancy of New York City. Significantly, these funds have also been leveraged to generate over $1 billion in private capital investments into Upper Manhattan. UMEZ continues to be a leader in reestablishing the area as one of New York’s most dynamic cultural districts through the creation of the Cultural Industry Investment Fund, established in 2004.

UMEZ provides loan capital of $250,000 or more to projects that provide new job creation and substantial economic growth in Upper Manhattan. Rather than competing with traditional lenders, we tend to augment (or “gap fund”) the level of private capital provided. UMEZ supports projects that provide new job creation as well as those that would be undercapitalized without our loan capital. These business investments are generally either commercial business loans or commercial real estate development loans.