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Low-interest loans will be made available to small businesses in low-income areas of Wayne County as part of a relief program put together by the county and Detroit-based TCF Financial Corp.

Businesses with fewer than 100 employees and with annual revenues under $1 million are eligible for the 0% to 2% interest loans of $5,000 to $50,000, the county and TCF said Wednesday. Wayne County is contributing $3 million to the initiative, which TCF is matching with hopes of growing total allocation to $10 million by recycling revenue from earlier loans. Entrepreneurs can contact any of TCF's branches in the county to get the process started or do so online.

"That is critically important to a number of small businesses that are just barely holding on now," Wayne County Executive Warren Evans said on a conference call. "Many who are closed. Many who have lost employees or in the process of losing employees because they're not generating revenue. While the federal government are planning to be able to provide some relief, they clearly can't do it with the speed they can.

The program comes after a stay-at-home order from Gov. Gretchen Whitmer went into effect on Tuesday, requiring workers not critical to Michigan's infrastructure to stay home. Deliberate violations could result in a misdemeanor that carries up to a $500 fine or up to 90 days in jail. The order lasts through April 13.

The goal is that the loans will be a "lifeline" for small businesses as soon as possible to provide certainty when it comes to paying employees, rent and other obligations, TCF Chairman Gary Torgow said.

"We are doing whatever possible within our arsenal of our offerings," Torgow said. "Today's announcement is one of the key areas that we think as one of Detroit's and Michigan's largest headquartered banks, we are fully focused on sustaining small businesses that are struggling so mightily today."

The contributions from Wayne County are from its community development program, nonprofit Wayne County-Detroit CDE Inc., said Khalil Rahal, assistant county executive. That program manages money granted from the federal New Markets Tax Credit initiative that must be spent in low-income census tracts. Low-income tracts represent about 55% of the county. The program has about $3.2 million available.

"The federal and state resources are good resources, but they're going to take time to get in people's hands," Rahal said. "People need the money right now."

At Warren's directive, the CDE's seven-member board reached out to TCF about a possible partnership. TCF is among the top 1% Small Business Association lenders, Torgow said.

The loans are another initiative to support small businesses during the health emergency. Quicken Loans founder Dan Gilbert's real estate business, Bedrock LLC, on Monday said it was offering rent forgiveness for up to three months to small businesses and restaurants in Detroit.

TCF has 15 branch locations in the county in Allen Park, Belleville, Canton, Dearborn Heights, Detroit, Grosse Pointe Woods, Hamtramck, Livonia, Northville, Southgate, Taylor and Westland. More information is available at tcfbank.com/waynecounty.

bnoble@detroitnews.com

Twitter: @BreanaCNoble

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