Reading Cooperative Bank (RCB) has joined up with the Lawrence Partnership, Mill Cites Community Investments (MCCI), Massachusetts Growth Capital Corporation (MGCC), nine other lenders, and the MA Governor’s office to collectively create the Merrimack Valley Small Business Emergency Loan Fund. The fund will help businesses that have been directly impacted by the recent natural gas emergency affecting Lawrence, Andover, and North Andover. The fund initially made $1 million available for businesses affected by the events of September 13th Any business that was affected by the gas fire disaster would qualify for the funds, including those from Lawrence, Andover, and North Andover.
Loans are being granted to affected businesses with no payments and no interest for the first six months and are secured by a pledge of their claim against Columbia Gas. For loan balances that extend beyond six-months market rates will apply and loans will be restructured as multi-year term loans. Businesses can apply for up to $50,000. A loan loss reserve for this fund has been contributed by Columbia Gas.
On October 22nd, 2018, Governor Baker announced the recapitalization of the Emergency fund with additional commitments totaling $2.1 million by RCB and other local lenders. Since the fund’s inception, 11 additional banks have committed to the restorative efforts.
“The economic harm from the gas explosions continues to ripple through these communities,” said RCB President & CEO Julie Thurlow. “The immediate loss of inventory and equipment harmed the business owner who is dependent on business profits to pay personal expenses and mortgages. Beyond that, their employees depend on the business to pay rent and feed their families. The damage continues to mount as long as these businesses remain closed; this fund aims to effectively remedy the problem.”
About Reading Cooperative Bank:
Reading Cooperative Bank is a depositor-owned co-operative founded in 1886. This community-centric North Shore financial service provider has branches in Reading, Wilmington, North Reading, Andover, and Burlington. They also operate teaching branches at Northeast Metro Tech in Wakefield (open to the public) and at Reading Memorial High School (students and staff only), as well as an online branch at www.readingcoop.com.