City approve partnership with VyStar for small business loans

Jacksonville will offer some grants, reimbursements of interest

File photo (David Goldman, Copyright 2020 Associated Press)

JACKSONVILLE, Fla. – During a special online meeting Monday, Jacksonville City Council unanimously approved a plan to dedicate $30 million in a partnership with VyStar Credit Union to help keep small businesses intact and people employed.

The COVID-19 Response Business Community Loan Program is designed to provide low-cost loans with less stringent underwriting requirements and flexible repayment terms to Duval County small businesses hurt from the current pandemic response.

The city will provide certain grants and reimbursements of interest and, in some cases, principal balances when participating businesses provide evidence of meeting criteria outlined by the city, including.

“The city will supply grants and reimbursement of interest and or principal balances to businesses that meet certain criteria including employee retention and rehiring of their workforce,” Mayor Lenny Curry said.

Loan highlights

  • No minimum loan amount; maximum loan amount of $100,000.
  • Fixed interest rate of 5.99%.
  • $250 underwriting fee waived for small businesses for each loan (credited by VyStar for loans under $5,000 and paid for by City of Jacksonville for loans above $5,000).
  • Quick loan approval and funding (3-5 days)

Flexible repayment options

  • Six month draw period allows businesses to use only what they need as they need it – they do not need to advance (or pay interest on) the entire amount approved at once; rather, they may advance and repay funds over the six month period to cover expenses as they arise.
  • Interest-only payments for the first year ensure repayment costs remain low as the small business works through the pandemic response and rebuilding periods. Principal and interest (P&I) payments begin in year two at an amount sufficient to repay the loan in 60 months.

Small business information

  • Business must have at least one year in operations (three-year requirement waived) and provide most recent year’s filed tax returns for business and all owners.
  • Business must have between two and 100 employees in addition to business owners.
  • While a personal guarantee is required from all business owners, the minimum personal credit score of 720 is waived for this program.
  • Must not be a business type excluded by the State of Florida’s Florida Small Business Emergency Bridge Loan Program or by VyStar’s standard lending criteria.
  • Nonprofits are eligible to participate.

City of Jacksonville enhancements

  • City will grant $1,000 to each business awarded a loan for a maximum city indebtedness of $3 million (these grants will be provided to up to the first 3,000 loan recipients)
  • City will provide a grant to pay interest costs in Year 1 for all businesses
  • City will provide a grant to pay interest costs in Years 2-6 if the business maintains employment of at least 50% of its pre- COVID-19 workforce (using Feb. 29 as base employment date)
  • City will provide a grant to pay 10% of the outstanding loan balance each year if the business employs at least 100% of its pre-COVID-19 workforce
  • To receive the grant payments, each business must submit sufficient documentation of employment on a form prescribed by the city
  • City will cover VyStar’s $250 underwriting fee per loan on all loans $5,000 or greater to underwrite and administer the loans

Steps to apply

1. Visit for important, general information

2. Print and fill out the loan application at

3. Email the following documents to

  • Completed application
  • Most recent 1-year business tax returns (If you have not filed 2019 returns please provide 2018 TR along with 2019 year-end profit and loss statement with your balance sheet)
  • Most recent 1-year personal tax returns for all owners

VyStar Credit Union will provide underwriting, processing and servicing of the loans as well as be responsible for all credit losses due to default. The city-provided benefits are eligible for loans made in the first six months of the program, with an optional six-month extension.

There has been a rush to apply for federal Small Business Administration loan program that is part of the $2 billion relief bill Congress passed last week that has caused a backlog of applications. While VyStar has been swamped with the SBA loans, the city-backed program is run locally and completely separate.

“If we do get issues with the system or accessibility and availability, we will work to solve it rapidly. This was built to deploy money to small businesses fast -- within days with going live with the application process,” Curry said.

While VyStar officially launched this program Monday, though many businesses have already submitted applications.

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