TUSCALOOSA PROGRAM REVIVES TORNADO LOANS
By WVUA 23 Student Reporter Bryn Caswell and WVUA 23 Web Writer Robert Nealon
Tuscaloosa officials are still working on bringing businesses back in areas destroyed by the April 27, 2011, tornado, and now they’re bringing back a program that helped new business pop up in the years after the devastation.
A hub of entrepreneurship is what the Tuscaloosa City Council and the U.S. Department of Housing and Urban Development are after with the new loan program.
“We hope this funding is a catalyst for businesses to locate there, thrive there,” said Community Development Program Manager Caramyl Drake.
The new program basically repackages the older Small Business Revitalization Program. It’s purpose was attracting businesses to recovery zones after the tornado.
We want to impact the areas that were most impacted by the tornado,” Drake said. “Those areas are Alberta and 10th Avenue.”
District 5 Tuscaloosa City Councilman Kip Tyner lost 65 percent of his district in that tornado, including a large portion of Alberta and 10th Avenue. But those are the areas the loan is focused on.
“We have $200,000 currently at play,” Tyner said. “So as it’s set up, $100,000 will go to Alberta, and another $100,000 will go to 10th Avenue.”
Much of the historic Moon Winx Lodge in Alberta was destroyed, but owner Bob Patel said he hopes the revival of the loan program can bring his business back to where it once was.
Patel said he lost 12 rooms in the tornado, and he’s had a hard time fixing up what was destroyed.
“The hotel lost the money, so we cannot build a new building, you know?” Patel said. “Nobody has helped us. I’ve had to spend my own pocket money.”
The loans act as a grant if approved clients follow guidelines. Applications will be available starting Monday.