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December 19, 2019

Windsor Locks greenlights small-biz loan program

In an effort to jumpstart entrepreneurship, Windsor Locks officials have established a low-interest loan program to aid small businesses planning to launch or expand in town.

Windsor Locks’ board of selectmen on Tuesday approved the adoption of a “microenterprise” loan program aimed at spurring economic development in the town’s so-called Downtown Tax Increment Financing (TIF) District. The hope is that encouraging private investments will also provide additional tax revenues for town coffers.

Businesses earning less than $500,000 a year in the Downtown TIF District must prove their project provides some level of public benefit to be eligible to apply for loans capped at $20,000. Qualifying businesses must also have under five employees and no access to commercial bank financing.

Established in 2016, the Downtown TIF District -- stretching from the area of Elm Street through roughly Main and Suffield streets -- allows the town to deposit new property taxes within the district to subsidize the business themselves and make infrastructure improvements to the surrounding area. 

In May, residents voted to create a TIF district in the area of a proposed sports complex at the east side of the Route 20 corridor. A study shows the complex could bring $27 million in spending to the town in the first five years.

Map | Town of Windsor Locks
A map of Windsor Locks’ Downtown Tax Increment Financing (TIF) District.

The current interest rate is 3 percent on loans for private investments in code compliance, site improvements, remodeling projects or repairs on equipment, one-time relocation expenses and other marketing, e-marketing and consulting services, among other expenditures.

Officials say the Windsor Locks Federal Credit Union has agreed to serve as the loan administrator, managing the deposit of loan program funds, disbursement of loans, collection of loan payments, recordkeeping, billing and tax reporting. 

The credit union and the town’s Economic and Industrial Development Commission (EIDC), which requested that the selectmen board approve the loan program, have been selected to sit on a loan review committee.

“The loan program represents a great opportunity for local small businesses,” said EIDC Chairman Michael Mannheim. “We want to do everything we can to encourage small businesses to open or expand in Windsor Locks, and this is an opportunity to obtain financing they cannot get elsewhere.”

Windsor Locks is not the only town leveraging a loan program for small businesses.

Manchester this year created a zero-interest building improvement loan program for small businesses located on its Main Street central business district.

The town in recent months approved the program’s first loan of $200,000 for Firestone Art Studio + Cafe in the former Pinewood Furniture building at 1115 Main St.

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December 20, 2019

With the new downtown Hartford Line station breaking ground next year, the conversion of the Montgomery Mill to 160 apartments adjacent to the station and several new transit oriented development projects in the works, downtown Windsor Locks is experiencing a revitalization. Quite a few start-ups and existing small businesses have recently located downtown and we hope many more will consider being a part of it. Chris Kervick - First Selectman

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