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A Seneca Street auto parts store received the first low-interest loan in a program that will assist small businesses in Buffalo's core neighborhoods.

The Good Door Store at 797 Seneca St. has been awarded a $47,340 loan from the Grow Buffalo/Federal Enterprise Community Fund program.

Owner Lloyd Hogan said he will use the money to buy a new state-of-the-art system that will enable crews to install spray-on liners on the interior sides and floors of trucks. Three new jobs are expected to be created. The store sells car doors, bumpers, gas tanks and other parts to consumers and body shops.

The loan fund was established last year and includes a $600,000 public component from the city's Federal Enterprise Community funds. The Zone Capital Consortium, a group of local banks, provided $600,000 in matching funds.

Hogan estimated that the 5.5 percent loan will save his company nearly $2,000 in annual interest costs over the next three years. He praised the city for creating a new tool designed to help encourage entrepreneurism in targeted neighborhoods, but he urged officials to find ways to speed up the process. He said The Good Door Store submitted its original application for assistance last summer.

"It's a great program, but they need to get things moving a little faster. I realize the paperwork takes time, but you get a little aggravated. You start saying things like 'Heck, I could have gone out and borrowed the money from a friend.' "

The fund is restricted to companies that are located within the boundaries of Buffalo's State Economic Development Zone. Created in 1994, the zone enables businesses to qualify for tax
breaks, cheap power and other incentives as a way to encourage economic development. The zone includes parts of the lower West Side, the near East Side, South Buffalo and downtown.

The Grow Buffalo Fund is administered by the Buffalo Economic Renaissance Corp. and President Alan H. DeLisle said it gives the city more flexibility when providing loans to small and medium-sized businesses.

"There's a tendency for the community and the media to focus on the bigger deals. But the mayor realizes that it's just as important to nurture small business development," he said.

DeLisle also noted that the Buffalo Economic Renaissance Corp. held graduation ceremonies Thursday evening for 20 individuals who completed a 13-week Entrepreneurial Assistance Program. The initiative aims to help women and minorities start or grow businesses.

"Several of the graduates have already completed business plans and some of the them will make excellent candidates for our Grow Buffalo Fund," DeLisle said.

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