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Saturday, May 25, 2024

Norfolk’s small business loan program grows by $2.5 million

(Courtesy of
(Courtesy of

NORFOLK – The city is expanding its loan program for small businesses and launching four funds with different target markets.

With the changes, the city’s loan pool for small businesses has jumped to $3 million from $500,000; the money is coming from federal funds, including Community Development Block Grants.

“It was limited to specific areas in the city before. Now it’s opened up to the entire city of Norfolk,” said Leslie Osborn of the city’s Department of Development.

Osborn, who was hired last year to organize and run the loan program, said some of the funds weren’t fully utilized before. The restructured program is aimed at different types of small businesses.

The four new funds are:

  • Innovation: Up to $150,000, primarily for the fields of technology, sustainability and resiliency, healthcare and life sciences, and general entrepreneurship.
  • Citywide Partnership: Up to $75,000 for expanding businesses. It will provide gap financing for brick-and-mortar projects, including housing, retail and commercial space.
  • Grow Norfolk –  up to $500,000 for  small, women and minority-owned businesses. This fund is administered by, the National Development Council.
  • Global Initiatives: Up to $50,000 for local exporters. The program will provide funds to businesses that require gap financing and pair them with traditional commercial lenders.

Osborn said the city is trying to fill a void created by the Great Recession, which tightened the financial requirements of traditional banks. Whereas they would finance 80 percent of an asset before, they now might offer 70 percent or 65 percent, she said.

A lot of small businesses in Norfolk are still left with a  gap in funding after receiving traditional bank loans, she said.

“The best thing we can do is help our businesses that are already here,” Osborn said. “And help them to expand their operations and provide some money that they might not have otherwise been able to get.”

Have a story idea or news tip? Contact Business reporter Hillary Smith  at or 757-490-2750.

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