Main Street Siloam Springs has created a bank loan consortium that will provide $2.5 million in seed money for small businesses seeking to renovate or open a business in the city’s downtown and within the parameters of the city’s master plan.
Downtown Siloam Springs is in the midst of a renovation and revitalization effort that began in 2014 with the city’s Downtown Master and Connectivity Plan.
Arvest Bank, Centennial Bank, Generations Bank, Grand Savings Bank, and Simmons First Bank will work with Main Street Siloam Springs on the funding effort. Each bank will provide $500,000 toward the loans for a beginning total of $2.5 million, according to Meredith Bergstrom, executive director of Main Street Siloam Springs.
“The master plan has created a vision of what Siloam Springs’ downtown and its access corridors can be and we want to see that vision come to fruition in the best possible way for our citizens,” Bergstrom said. “We hope that this financial help will be an incentive to those who want to be part of this downtown excitement.”
A similar loan consortium was announced in Bentonville last year as an effort to help the city and businesses spruce up the North Walton Boulevard corridor. Since that time, several businesses, such as Mach 1 Financial and Las Palmas have taken advantage of the funding, Mach 1 renovated its building and relocated from Bella Vista. Las Palmas Mexican restaurant added a courtyard and new building facade. The city has also extended the trail system along both sides of North Walton to make it a more walkable area.
Bergstrom said while downtown Siloam Springs is not a blighted area, there are buildings that need renovation and there is a need for more mixed-used, retail and residential density in the downtown area.
“We are hoping this initiative will spark interest among other investors as well.” she added.
Bergstrom said Main Street Siloam Springs will vet the proposed project to ensure it is consistent with the master plan and the projects will be sent to Arrest Bank, who has agreed to be the consortium leader. Arvest will gather necessary information on the project and the applicant, then share that with the other cooperating banks for their consideration.
“This kind of cooperation among local banks is in the best interest of Siloam Springs and will enhance the quality of life in our city,” said Roger Holroyd, Arvest Bank president in Siloam Springs.
Bergstrom said there is already pent-up demand from prospective participants and the organization expects to share at least two projects in the coming weeks. She said there is not a cap on the project amounts, and if the $2.5 million is used and there is still demand, the banks have the option to expand the loan totals.
“Although we are working together, each bank will make its own credit decision on each loan application and loans will be divided evenly among the participating banks,” said Tim McCord, president of Generations Bank in Siloam Springs. “The loans are offered at attractive interest rates for small business loans to encourage momentum in downtown Siloam Springs and in keeping with the master plan.”
Bergstrom said another area where investment is needed involves extending the pedestrian access from downtown through the east Main Street corridor. She said as the downtown area continues to grow, real estate prices will trend higher, something that is now starting to happen in and around downtown Siloam Springs.
Within just the past eight years, more than 20 buildings have been renovated, more than 25 businesses have been opened (adding a net of nearly 100 new jobs), and an estimated $11 million has been reinvested in property purchases, building renovation, and public improvement projects, according to the Main Street Siloam Springs website.