WICHITA, Kan. (KSNW) — If you have a small business in Wichita, you could be eligible for a low-interest loan. The City of Wichita has expanded its PROPEL Small Business Loan Fund to the whole city. It was initially developed for and only available to minority-owned and women-owned firms and businesses in Wichita City Council District 1.
PROPEL stands for Providing Resources and Opportunities for Proprietors, Entrepreneurs and Lenders. The PROPEL fund offers low-interest, short-term loans. The original money for PROPEL came from a portion of District 1’s proceeds from the sale of the Hyatt hotel in 2016.
Now, $220,000 in Community Development Block Grant (CDBG) money has been allocated to the revolving loan fund. That and a generous contribution from INTRUST Bank will enable the PROPEL fund to extend participation to business owners throughout Wichita on an ongoing basis.
“The PROPEL fund provides loans up to $20,000 to local businesses that have the ability to pay a loan but may not be able to obtain financing through traditional sources,” Brandon Johnson, Wichita District 1 council member, said.
“Working with PROPEL has been a wonderful experience,” says Hannah Thompson, whose Reel Photography, LLC studio located on Douglas across from East High was funded in the program’s initial round. “This is my first time having a business loan, and the process has been easy.”
Business owners must meet a set of eligibility criteria and apply for the program by the end of business on March 18. There are also requirements that establish how the funds may be spent.
Businesses that serve low-to-moderate income people and exist within low-to-moderate income census tracts can receive a PROPEL loan funded with CDBG. Business owners who qualify and are approved can receive up to $20,000 in loan funds at a 3% interest rate.
Loans must be repaid within 36 months. CML Collective, a minority-owned firm with experience creating and managing microloan programs, partnered with the city to help develop PROPEL. Other PROPEL partners include INTRUST Bank, Network Kansas, Fidelity Bank, the Wichita Community Foundation, the South Central Kansas Economic Development District, the Federal Reserve Bank of Kansas and others.
“Really incredible program,” Wichita Mayor Brandon Whipple said. “It speaks to the commitment of the city to create programs that help with small business growth and development and entrepreneurship here in our city. So we’re glad to see that this has been a success in its pilot program and also to see it move forward as a citywide program thanks to the generosity of our community sponsors.”
More information can be found at wichita.gov/propel.