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Business Development Programs Offered By City Of Hickory

The City of Hickory offers a range of incentives and business development programs to support new and expanding businesses. City officials recently issued a news release outlining those opportunities.

In October 2018, the City of Hickory launched its Community Development Block Grant (CDBG) Small Business Loan Program with the intent to increase opportunities for entrepreneurship and small business growth locally.

The CDBG Small Business Loan Program provides loans to businesses looking for funding to create jobs and purchase equipment necessary to take their business to the next level. Since the program is funded with CDBG funds, all loans must be made to businesses with the intent of creating jobs for low to moderate income individuals.

Loans of up to $20,000 may be awarded for eligible businesses that create jobs, of which at least 51 percent are filled by low to moderate income individuals. An individual is considered low to moderate income if their household income is less than 80 percent of the area median income. In 2022, this is currently $53,900 for a family of four.

Loan funds may be used to purchase business equipment only, with the loan amount paid by the City of Hickory directly to a third-party equipment vendor. The loan period will be for nine years at a 4 percent interest rate. Re-payment of the loan will be in monthly payments made to the City of Hickory via an automatic bank draft from the business owner’s account. If payments are made on time for a period of five years and other program criteria are met, the remaining balance will be forgiven.

Eligible businesses must be located within the City of Hickory municipal limits and follow all applicable City of Hickory regulations, codes, and ordinances, including the Land Development Code and the Hickory Code of Ordinances. Submitted loan applications for the program will be reviewed by the City of Hickory’s Business Development Committee before going to the Hickory City Council for final approval.

Another initiative being offered is the Microenterprise Grant Program. In its 2020-2024 Consolidated Plan for Housing and Community Development, the City of Hickory identified increasing entrepreneurship opportunities as a high priority need. This allows funding for an additional program to support entrepreneurs through microenterprise grants. These grants are designed to assist business owners looking for funding to enhance their business operations.

According to the U.S. Department of Housing and Urban Development (HUD), a microenterprise is a business that has five or fewer employees, one of whom is the owner of the business.

The City’s Microenterprise Grant Program awards grants ranging from $1,000 to $4,000 based on the needs outlined in the submitted business plan. Since qualifying projects will also be funded with CDBG funds, applicants must have a household income of less than 80 percent of the area median income ($53,900 for a family of four). Microenterprise grant applications will be reviewed by the Business Development Committee before going to the Hickory City Council for approval.

Grant funds may be used for the following purposes: business equipment, inventory, necessary fixed assets, marketing and business promotion, or other essential business improvements, as approved by the Business Development Committee. Grant funds may not be used for real property improvements. Funds may not be used for expenses that were incurred prior to final approval of the funding agreement by the Hickory City Council.

For more information about the City of Hickory’s business development programs, contact the Office of Business Development at 828-323-7414 or visit www.hickorync.gov/business-development-programs.