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Small businesses can apply for loans through Golden LEAF. Here's how.

Small businesses can apply for loans through Golden LEAF. Here's how.

Only $5 for 5 months

The COVID-19 relief legislation provides North Carolina business owners with a new financial resource: $125 million in loans through the Golden LEAF Foundation.

The foundation was established to manage funds from the master settlement with the tobacco companies “to increase economic opportunity in North Carolina’s rural and tobacco-dependent communities,” according to the foundation website.

The foundation is partnering with the N.C. Rural Center to administer the loan, according to a foundation release.

Businesses will be able to apply for loans of up to $50,000.

Todd Brantley, senior director of public affairs for the Rural Center, said loans will carry a minimal interest rate for the first six months.

If the loan is not paid back in that time, the loan will carry a 5.5 percent interest rate for a term of up to five years, Brantley said.

Businesses that had 100 or fewer employees at the time of Gov. Roy Cooper’s statewide emergency declaration on March 10 get priority.

Prior to the loan program approved by the legislature, the foundation had already set up a $15 million loan program to provide relief to businesses.

As of April 27, more than 100 businesses in the Hickory area had applied for the loan funding. This included 56 in Catawba County, 27 in Burke County, 16 in Caldwell County and eight in Alexander County.

For more information on the loans, visit or call 800-228-8443.

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