Loan fund in search of borrowers

Providence Mayor Jorge O. Elorza took a victory lap of sorts recently, visiting three companies that have been beneficiaries of loans from the Providence Business Loan Fund.

That the mayor could visit these companies is a bit surprising to begin with, because half a dozen years ago this program was suspended by the U.S. Department of Housing and Urban Development.

Then known as the Providence Economic Development Partnership, its loan default rate was 60 percent, in large part because startups starving for capital had scooped up far more in loans than had been set aside originally and had subsequently failed.

Today the fund is looking to do more lending, with a pool of capital of between $1 million and $1.5 million, and a goal of helping businesses of any size grow their staffs.

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Despite its solid capitalization, PBLF does not have businesses knocking down its doors for loans. Hopefully that is just a sign of poor marketing and not a lack of need for capital to grow, because as it is currently constituted, this program is just what city businesses need.