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Down on Main Street: What's propelled small businesses in Downtown Springfield

Start up businesses are getting a helping hand from the Oregon Community Foundation, which is offering business and consumer loans to owners who can't get traditional loans from banks. (SBG).

SPRINGFIELD, Ore. - Start up businesses are getting a helping hand from the Oregon Community Foundation, which is providing $750,000 to Community Lending Works to offer business and consumer loans to owners who can't get traditional loans from banks.

When they loan money, they're not just helping owners, they're helping an entire community.

Ross Arce opens the door to what he calls a dream that's become a reality in downtown Springfield -- his new restaurant.

"It was the best day of the year for us," said Arce, co-owner of George and Violet's Steakhouse. "We were immediately looking for a bottle of champagne. We're hugging each other, it was a really good day for us."

They had a vision for the restaurant, but there was one problem: the traditional bank loan rates were too high.

That's when they received a helping hand from the neighborhood economic development corporation.

"They helped us go through our business plan to look at different angles of things we haven't thought about and really approach it in a proactive and productive way," said Arce.

Community Lending Works Executive Director Emily Reiman says her group's aim is to not only stimulate new economic grown and create jobs, but to encourage new ideas as well.

Reiman and company have helped other owners, leading to the new inviting character of downtown Springfield.

"Now, when I hear people talk about downtown Springfield, what I hear is, 'I want to move into the Washburn neighborhood,' because they want to be within walking distance of downtown Springfield," said Reiman. "So to see that shift over the last ten years is just amazing."

This is the first of three grants awarded from OCF’s newly established Oregon Impact Fund, which seeks to make investments that impact job creation and retention.

Now, one more business owner is looking forward to a bright future, helping lay the foundation to make Main street the main street in Springfield once again.

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