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 under capitalized without our loan capital.
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Our loans generally fall into two categories:
Commercial business loans. These loans are aimed at small business formation and/or expansion to create local wealth and economic vitality for Upper Manhattan. These loans may be senior or subordinated financing, depending on other sources of capital for the project, and are set at below-market fixed interest rates, with flexible maturity terms based on the cash flows, job generation, and level of collateral for the project.
Commercial real estate development loans. These are real estate–type loans for large commercial development projects that can serve as catalysts for job creation and transform the physical landscape of certain blighted areas. UMEZ provides subordinated debt financing at below-market interest rates and tailored terms; sizing is based on the level of jobs created and overall economic return for the project. Loans may be used for construction and/or permanent financing. Preference is given to projects where a senior lender has already been identified for the project.
We offer loans to qualified existing and start-up businesses in Upper Manhattan. Unlike traditional bank lenders, we generally do not focus solely on credit scores or require two years of operations. Unlike SBA lenders, we do not require our loans to be 100% collateralized by your assets. Instead, we seek projects that generally meet the following criteria:
Loan size: $250,000 and above
Pricing: Fixed rate and competitive with market rates
Loan term: 5 to 7 years (commercial); up to 10 years (real estate)
Uses: Start-up financing, business expansion, machinery and equipment, leasehold improvements, refinancing, commercial real estate, and working capital
The process begins informally with a discussion with a UMEZ lending officer. After the project is deemed appropriate, an application and any pertinent project-related information that may be requested are submitted to begin the underwriting process. The underwriting process ends with final loan approval by the New York Empowerment Zone (NYEZ). The entire process typically requires two to three months to complete.
The review and approval process is summarized below:
Prospective applicants are encouraged to meet with a UMEZ lending officer before applying to informally explore the appropriateness of potential funding under the Empowerment Zone initiative. Please call (212) 410-0030 to discuss your interest in potential funding.
In addition, all applicants must enroll as a vendor with New York City's Mayor's Office of Contract Services (MOCS) in order to obtain loan approval. Vendors must first create a NYC.ID and then enroll with PASSPort. The following guides can help explain the process and how to fill out the Vendor and Principal Questionnaires online. If you have issues or need additional help with PASSPort, contact the Help Desk at MOCS.
The 125th Street Pilot Retail Incentive Program was an effort by the Upper Manhattan Empowerment Zone Development Corporation to create a focused response to certain externalities that may result from the rezoning of 125th Street. This initial pilot program targeted only those businesses that have been adversely affected by the proposed rezoning of 125th Street or entrepreneurs seeking to take advantage of newly created retail opportunities within a defined portion of 125th Street.