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City loan helps new businesses

Calling all businesses.

Here’s your chance to put the city of South Lake Tahoe to work for you.

The city is offering loans for business start-ups, working capital, real estate buys, equipment upgrades and inventory expansion out of the Housing and Economic Development Department.



Two businesses have been approved for $83,000 in funds from the 1999 state grant.

One of them, Mt. Tallac Brewing, figures to gain $40,000 that owner Jeff Walker will use to hire two employees, buy bottling equipment and pay operating expenses.




Beer brewer and distributor Walker is overwhelmed with trying to run the business and create his pale ale. He’s willing to hire someone who excels in math and science as an apprentice, if this worker can lift a 55-pound bag of grain.

Walker, a chemistry major in college, swung open his doors on Eloise Avenue last January. Now, his beer flows on the Tahoe Queen and lifts the spirits of bar patrons at Dixon’s and Mott’s Canyon for which this California licensed distributor has signed on a Nevada distributor.

The 42-year-old Walker, a brewer since 1985, is watching over a fermenting amber brew that will be ready in two weeks.

“I sank everything into my business,” he said, referring to financial commitments that have stretched him thin in the first year.

Walker applied for a loan with an unnamed bank, but he was turned down.

“It’s the people who don’t need it who get the money,” he said, sending kudos to city department assistant Andrea Burnam for organizing the program. “She went out of her way and walked me through it.”

To Walker, the program is “definitely worth checking out.”

More than $166,000 is available under the grant that kicked in last July, Burnam noted. The city has one more year to sign up other prospects for the money borrowed at fixed interest rates that fall below conventional bank financing and above West Coast prime.

“Our goal is to make local businesses aware of it,” Burnam said. “We’re finding there is a need.”

The criteria for qualifying includes the creation of one job for every $20,000 borrowed. Like the beer distributor, businesses that were denied loans through traditional banking institutions may make the grade.

Company owners and managers with experience in the type of business applying for funds will be given notable consideration from the loan committee.

Prospects may also receive free assistance in developing a business plan, an entrepreneur’s version of a graduate student’s thesis.

“We’ve had no applications for start-up businesses, and again, it’s there for that. But we’ve had inquiries,” said Burnam, who signed on for the civic responsibility in April.

Under the 1999 business loan grant, the city applied for more funds from the state than its 1997 grant covering the period from January 1998 to August 2000.

“(And) that grant was dormant because we were understaffed (to handle it)” Burnam said regarding the 1997 grant.

The city will accept all applications and consider all types of business.

“We’re helping business get back on its feet again and hire to help the economy,” said Burnam, who approached the South Lake Tahoe Chamber of Commerce to get the word out about the program.

South Lake Tahoe Chamber Executive Director Duane Wallace said the program helps the local economy two-fold by boosting business and putting people to work.

“Businesses here can use any help they can get,” he said.


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