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Business loan program use picks up with economy

April 22, 2014

Paul Hackbarth, who plans to open Camp Bar in Wauwatosa this summer, said without a grant, he may not have chosen the city as a destination.

"That was the major draw to the area," Hackbarth said.

Hackbarth said the business got a $150,000 grant administered by the city, which he is using as a down payment on the building at 5600 W. North Ave.

The grant, which is technically a loan that's forgivable after five years in business, uses federal Community Development Block Grant funds. Development Director Paulette Enders said the city has allocated about $536,000 of the funds and has about $150,000 left.

Enders said this program and Wauwatosa's revolving loan fund have recently become more popular, as the economy and interest in development pick up. The revolving loan fund has provided about $363,000 in loans over the past four years. It has a balance of about $380,000.

"There was a pool of funds that were available, and businesses hadn't been taking advantage of them on a regular basis," Enders said.

The city started marketing the programs more heavily and now, Enders said, they are steadily used.

"I think businesses that have been taking the most advantage of it have been the restaurants, which are doing quite well in Wauwatosa," Enders said.

Restaurants are especially good candidates for the forgivable loans, because those come with a requirement of creating jobs low- and moderate- income individuals. Hackbarth said he expects Camp Bar to generate about nine full-time-equivalent jobs.

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