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SAN JOSE-The San Jose Redevelopment Agency has announced that its board has approved two loan programs to assist building owners and business tenants in San Jose’s Downtown and Neighborhood Business districts.

The Retail Entertainment and Arts Loan, or REAL, Assistance Program will provide financial assistance to owners of existing downtown buildings to rehabilitate their facilities. The program is an effort to encourage long-term tenancies of area businesses.

Those long-term tenancies, agency officials say, activate the street front and provide a publicly accessible dining or retail shopping experience.

In addition, the REAL Assistance Program will draw arts groups Downtown and encourage them to stay permanently by removing the initial hurdle of tenant investment in improvements that often precludes an arts organization’s tenancy in a desirable commercial location.

Applicants for REAL loans must demonstrate the capacity to appropriately manage and use the amount of the loan in a specific time frame. The 0%-interest loans have a 10-year term and other restrictions apply.

“The REAL Assistance Program was designed to fill vacancies in downtown buildings with viable tenants,” says Susan Schick, executive director of the San Jose Redevelopment Agency.

The second newly approved program, the Small Business Assistance Loan Program, provides a $2 million loan fund targeted to businesses located in the downtown core or in a neighborhood business district that have been in operation for more than a year and recently experienced declining revenues.

The program will provide businesses loans of between $1,000 and $3,000, with 3% simple interest rates and flexible terms.

The program is intended to fill a financing gap, not currently available from other government or private-sector loan programs for small businesses. The program is aimed at stabilizing or helping businesses expand in today’s difficult economic environment. It is being funded by the redevelopment agency and administered by the San Jose Office of Economic Development.

Eligibility for the small business loan program is limited to small retail business owners operating in the downtown core or neighborhood business districts for at least a year. The business must be able to show that it is currently breaking even or has been profitable for a majority of the last three years. As with the other program, additional restrictions apply.

“These two loan programs address the myriad of financial problems associated with being both a landlord and a small business owner,” San Jose City Councilwoman Cindy Chavez says. “We’re focused on strategic steps that will quickly and effectively improve the retail environments of downtown and our many neighborhood business districts.”

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