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(The Center Square) – Virginia’s small businesses and nonprofits will be eligible for up to $100,000 in low-interest loans through a new program designed to help them rebuild from financial losses related to the COVID-19 pandemic and subsequent government restrictions.

The Southern Opportunity and Resilience program, abbreviated SOAR, was created by community lenders. The money is provided by philanthropic, private and corporate investors.

Businesses and nonprofits will be eligible if they have fewer than 50 employees. The program is launching with $50 million in initial commitments, but the coalition intends to eventually lend $150 million or more. Entities in 15 southern states will be eligible for the loans.

“The loans are designed to reach the smallest of small businesses and those that have been historically underbanked, including those in rural areas and those owned by women, people of color, and immigrants,” the press release stated. “These businesses often struggle to access capital from traditional sources but are critical to providing jobs and supporting economic recovery in communities across the South.”

Funding will go through local Community Development Financial Institutions. When an eligible entity submits its application, the business owner will be matched with a participating lender that will provide advisory support. An owner can apply online and will be matched within five minutes.

“We encourage all small businesses and nonprofits that have been impacted by the [COVID-19] pandemic and need a hand in rebuilding to apply now,” Patrick Davis, Vice President of Program Strategy and Development at Community Reinvestment Fund, said in a statement. His organization will be hosting the online platform.

“This is affordable capital that can help small business owners and nonprofits hang on and rebuild, which is vitally important to all of us,” Davis said. “Nonprofits provide crucial services and support to our communities and small businesses create jobs and provide valuable economic activity. Strong southern small businesses and nonprofits will lead to a strong economic recovery for southern communities.”

Funding covers the following states: Alabama, Arkansas, Delaware, Florida, Georgia, Louisiana, Maryland, Mississippi, North Carolina, Oklahoma, South Carolina, Tennessee, Texas, Virginia, West Virginia and the District of Columbia.

Staff Reporter

Tyler Arnold reports on Virginia and West Virginia for The Center Square. He previously worked for the Cause of Action Institute and has been published in Business Insider, USA TODAY College, National Review Online and the Washington Free Beacon.