As Rochester's Population Grows, Leaders Find Ways for Businesses to Grow, Too
City announces collaboration with OU INCubator in new micro loan program for expanding businesses.
Rochester has been known for its big, bright lights.
And now the city that saw the highest 10-year growth record in Oakland County is looking to be known as a "destination" for investment capital.
Rochester government and business leaders gathered this week to launch a program that will provide micro loans to growing businesses in the city.
Mayor Jeff Cuthbertson called the program a milestone.
"Rochester is a town with strong historic roots and a sense of place. It is unique and successful," said Cuthbertson, citing the city's 97 percent retail occupancy rate. "In Rochester we want to say we will go the extra mile to show that we're serious about our business community."
About the program
The micro loan program announced this week will allow the DDA to help businesses secure loans. It's a broad power but narrowly tailored, Cuthbertson explained: the loans will be for $10,000-$30,000 for three to five years. They'll be for growth-stage companies coming to or expanding in Rochester.
It's a program that will target entrepreneurs, among others.
"In addition to a dream and hard work, they need sponsorship," said Congressman Gary Peters, who attended the symposium Wednesday at the Royal Park Hotel. "Over and over again what I hear from small businesses is their difficulty to get the loans they need.
"To really make that happen, it takes putting a local community behind it."
The OU INCubator will serve as a "kitchen cabinet" for these companies to get resources and tools to succeed once they are approved for the loans, said Amy Butler, OU INCubator's newly named director who worked formerly with the Department of Energy, Labor and Economic Growth.
While there is no particular focus or industry the loans will target, the program's sponsors say they are interested in businesses with a strong track record for growth.
Mike Fezzey, president of Huntington National Bank's southeast Michigan region, called the program exactly what the state needs.
"We believe in innovation and new thinking in the state of Michigan," Fezzey said. Huntington is one of the sponsors of the micro loans. "There is an appetite, an interest, a commitment and a desire to turn this state around."
For more information on the micro loan program, call the city of Rochester at 248-651-9061 or OU INCubator at 248-648-4800.