The Business Selection Committee for Covenant Community Development Corp. will begin sending out fliers and pamphlets to churches, libraries and other civic organizations advertising pre-applications for small businesses that want space in its development at Garth Avenue and Sexton Road.
Covenant Executive Director Dana Battison is also the executive director of The Intersection, a nonprofit organization for children. She said The Intersection will apply for space to establish a sandwich shop. Charles Allen, a member of the committee, emphasized that Battison is not on the committee and that all applicants will be treated equally.
“We want to make that perfectly clear, that no individuals will be excluded,” Allen said during a news conference Tuesday morning. “The Intersection will not receive preferential treatment.”
He also noted that ethnicity is not on the application.
Businesses in need of financial aid will have to search for sources outside the committee, but Chairman Doug Moesel said two committee members, Mike Schrader and Keith McLoughlin, could help. McLoughlin could offer larger Small Business Administration loans, while Schrader, who works for Enterprise Development Corp., could help applicants get micro-loans of up to $25,000. Background checks will be done independently by each company.
Although applicants will be required to disclose their criminal backgrounds, Moesel said people with criminal records will not be automatically eliminated. He said the severity of the crime and when it happened will be considered.
Battison said six businesses have already inquired about an application, and the group is expecting to get 20 to 30 applicants. That will be narrowed down to 10 to 12, who will be asked to submit full business plans by Sept. 1.
The committee’s focus will be to create a variety of services that meet the group’s standards. These include operating within the hours of 6 a.m. and 9 p.m., working cooperatively with other tenants, submitting monthly financial summaries and hiring a majority of employees from the central city.
“The idea is to help what is in many ways an economically distressed area,” Battison said.
The grand opening for the entire area is set for February 2008, but individual businesses could open separately. This will include apartments and an ALPS grocery store. The group was reluctant to discuss who will own the grocery store since negotiations are ongoing. Battison said Larry Sutton, who previously had been the targeted owner, is still involved.
Allen said this project is important for the entire community.
“It’s all about making dreams a reality for people wanting to start a small business and being there to help them every step of the way,” he said.