As the COVID19 pandemic continues, the City of Goose Creek has taken action on behalf of its businesses.
KickStart the Creek is a loan program offered through a joint partnership between the City and Charleston LDC (Lend Develop Create). It offers low-interest, working capital loans to small businesses in Goose Creek, specifically those who don’t qualify for traditional loans.
Charleston LDC is a CDFI or Community Development Financial Institution, providing low-interest loans since 1979 to underserved small businesses in South Carolina, specifically those that are owned by minorities, veterans and women. It has a long history of bolstering small businesses throughout the state. “We have the expertise for businesses that have historically struggled with federal lending relationships and bank relationships,” Charleston LDC Director of Development and Policy Sam Skardan said.
The pandemic was in its first months when it was clear that the federal response to help businesses was in many cases lacking. Cindi Rourk is Charleston LDC’s Director of Lending and Business Development. “Municipalities like Goose Creek saw what was going on,” she said. “The feds were slow, and many businesses who couldn’t get traditional lending were left out.”
The low-interest loan program addresses the gap in financing.
VaLinda Miller, owner of Turning Page Book Shop in Goose Creek, is a grateful loan recipient. She plans to use the money to pay back-rent, as well as state taxes. “During the pandemic, not much money was made, so the bookshelves are a bit bare,” she said.
To be eligible for the program, Miller, like all applicants, first applied for the Paycheck Protection Program through the federal government, and was denied.
“We knew that working capital would be an issue with COVID, so that’s what this money is for—to pay employees, pay the lease and keep the lights on,” Goose Creek’s Economic Development Director Matt Brady explained.
While the program was conceived to provide relief during the pandemic, it will continue into the foreseeable future. “Goose Creek’s mayor is fond of saying that it’s much easier to help an existing business than recruit new ones,” Rourk said.
Through KickStart the Creek, the community’s established businesses have a better chance of surviving the pandemic and growing into the future.