Things You Should Know Before Applying for an ARC Loan

In addressing difficulties, be aware of the qualifications

BLO_CuttingEdgeLoansFor struggling small business owners, there may be help with the government’s ARC Loan Program. The interest-free loans are intended to aid small businesses in combating short-term hardship.

“It’s a loan that is meant to help pay off underlying debts that the small business has,” says Mike Stamler, spokesman for Small Business Administration (SBA), which administers the program. The loan is meant to help free up cash flow that would have been used to pay down existing debt, allowing it to be used instead for other purposes, Stamler explains. Banks make the loans but the government guarantees the full amount and pays lenders interest on the loan.
While the program looks to add much needed—albeit limited—assistance to businesses, it hasn’t been without controversy. Small businesses owners and a number of agencies have lodged complaints regarding the lack of disbursements. Earlier last month, Sen. Olympia Snowe (R-Maine), who helped create the legislation, introduced a bill to repeal the ARC program, due in part to a projected 60% default rate by the Office of Management and Budget, reports Business Week.

From the program’s June inception to Nov. 20, more than 4,200 small business owners have participated, receiving a total of $318 million in loans—more than 12% of the total SBA loan volume, Stamler says. There are 950 lenders making these loans, which according to the SBA, are slated to run through September 2010. If you’re looking to apply for a loan through the program, make sure you do the following three things.

Check with your bank first. Check to see if your bank is part of the ARC Loan Program. Many lenders are providing these loans to existing customers only, Stamler says. For a list of lenders providing loans through the program, visit SBA.gov.

Contact your local SBA district office. If you have difficulty securing a loan, contact a regional SBA office for guidance. For a list of SBA offices in your area, visit the SBA’s Website.

Make sure your business is viable. To get an ARC loan, businesses must be viable. In other words, they have to have a sound business model with revenue projections that show that the business can survive with the help of the loan. “Cash flow projections would have to indicate [that the business] would be able to resume payment after the six-month disbursement,” says Stamler, adding, “The business has to show a profit in at least one of the two preceding years.”

For more information on ARC loans, visit SBA.gov.

If you’ve received an ARC loan, let us know how you navigated the application process.

Renita Burns is a staff writer at BlackEnterprise.com.

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