$2M in loans available to Vt. small businesses, nonprofits

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BURLINGTON, Vt. (WCAX) There's new money in Vermont for small businesses to borrow. Bank of America has provided the Vermont Community Loan Fund with $2 million to re-loan across the state. Officials say it will help grow the economy and create more affordable housing.

A little loan can make a big difference for a small business.

"This $2 million committment will be the largest private investment in the Vermont Community Loan Fund's history," said Gov. Phil Scott, R-Vermont.

It worked for Mamava in Burlington. The company received an average-sized loan from the Vermont Community Loan Fund that helped double it's workforce. Now the company's breastfeeding pods are popping up around the country, including Amtrak stations.

"You sometimes hear that Vermont's smallness makes it a difficult place to do business, but I actually believe that smallness is part of the magic making it a great place to do business," said Mamava's Sascha Mayer.

The loans average $100,000, but have gone as high as $2 million. VCLF officials say the terms are more lenient than traditional commercial loans and can help a business like Mamava grow, even when commercial lenders can't meet their needs. "We're willing to be a little more flexible, a little more patient, take a little more risk," said VCLF's Will Belongia. He says about $6 million is available in loans. About $30 million is already invested. The recent infusion of cash from Bank of America means more businesses can be supported.

"Our purpose is to help make financial lives better for our clients and communities through the power of every connection," said Bank of America's Philip Smith.

Belongia says the money will help other businesses thrive. "Their support and the support of all our investors will help the Vermont Community Loan Fund find and support the next generation of entrepreneurs, like Mamava," he said.