Lawrence, Kan. –The Chamber’s Metropolitan E-Community Program (MECP), an entrepreneurial and small business financial support program, has been elevated to Tier 1 status for fiscal year 2020, which starts on July 1. The program, administered by the Chamber on behalf of NetWork Kansas, a statewide entrepreneurial support organization, provides low-interest loans as gap financing to spur growth in underserved areas or to assist underserved members of the community.
Previously a Tier 2 program, Lawrence’s new designation increases its annual lending capacity from $100,000 to as much as $200,000 and gives the Chamber greater autonomy in setting lending terms. Tier designations are set annually by NetWork Kansas based on loan volume, loans in good standing and other entrepreneurial activity.
“This is such an impactful program for our small business community and I’m really excited about the greater prospects for growth with the Tier 1 status,” said Adam Handshy, director of programs and business development at The Chamber. “Since funding our first project in 2017, interest from the small business and lending community has really picked up. We burned through our 2019 allocation in just five months and had to turn a few deals away. There’s clearly a need for the program and I’m confident we’ll use every dollar at our disposal.”
Gap financing is the amount of money needed by a business when conventional lenders are unwilling to assume 100 percent of the lending risk for a given project. MECP funds can support up to 60 percent of total project costs, up to a maximum of $45,000. To date, the program has funded six projects, disbursing funds in excess of $200,000. These projects, which include medical services, food production, agriculture, and retail, in turn leveraged an additional $2.1 million in private capital.
More information, including an application for an MECP loan, can be found at https://lawrencechamber.com/programs/mecp/.
About The Chamber, Lawrence, Kansas
The Chamber, Lawrence, Kansas, is a non-for-profit organization that promotes the economic vitality of Lawrence and Douglas County. The Chamber represents the interests of our members and the Lawrence & Douglas County business community by facilitating strategic partnerships for the benefit of our community, educating the community on the benefits of economic development, advocating for local and regional competitive economic viability, and promoting civic leadership and community engagement.
About NetWork Kansas
NetWork Kansas is a statewide network of nonprofit, business-building resources that help entrepreneurs and small business owners start and grow successful businesses. NetWork Kansas’ E-Community and other support programs are funded through the sale of state tax credits. In 2019, new legislation in Kansas was enacted to allow financial institutions to purchase the tax credits. The legislation also increased the max tax credit per contributor from $50,000 to $100,000.