New Emergency Loan Fund for Businesses Impacted by Gas Explosions Opens Today

Gov. Charlie Baker speaks at a Lawrence press conference in the wake of Thursday's explosions and fires across the Merrimack Valley. (Jay Saulnier photograph for WHAV News)

Gov. Charlie Baker speaks at a Lawrence press conference in the wake of Thursday's explosions and fires across the Merrimack Valley. (Jay Saulnier photograph for WHAV News.)

Businesses in Lawrence, Andover and North Andover affected by the Sept. 13 gas-related fires and explosions and subsequent loss of utilities now have access to a loan pool announced Friday by Gov. Charles Baker and other officials.

The $1 million emergency loan fund takes effect today. Eligible businesses may brown money with no payments and no interest for the first six months, said Baker, Lt. Gov. Karyn Polito and Secretary of Housing and Economic Development Jay Ash. After six months, market rates will apply and loans may be extended or restructured for multi-year terms. An expedited application and approval process aims for 24- and 48-hour turnarounds.

Baker said, “Local businesses are the bedrock of our economy and are in dire need of solutions to make sure they can stay in business and continue to provide good paying jobs, and we are grateful for the regional lenders that have come together to support this important effort.”

Those lenders include, locally, Merrimack Valley Credit Union, Pentucket Bank and Align Credit Union.

“Businesses in Lawrence, Andover and North Andover find themselves in a situation they did not create but nonetheless are victims of,” said Lawrence Mayor Daniel Rivera. “With this fund being created, we don't intend to solve all of their problems, but we hope this provides some much-needed relief,” he added.

Andover Town Manager Andrew P. Flanagan and North Andover Town Manager Andrew Maylor echoed the sentiments.

The fund is the result of a pooled effort of Mass Growth Capital Corporation, Lawrence Partnership, the 10 lenders involved with the Lawrence Venture Loan Fund and Mill Cities Community Investments.

More information is at wearelawrence.org/lawrencegasresponsebusiness.