ROCKY MOUNT – Golden LEAF, a statewide economic development group, is making another $125 million in loans available to small businesses across North Carolina following the N.C. General Assembly’s passage of a COVID-19 pandemic relief bill that was signed into law Monday by Gov. Roy Cooper.

Earlier, Golden LEAF offered a $15 million program that was quickly exhausted.

“Effective today, loans made from the program to small businesses will include a limit on the number of employees per business, a minimum interest rate for the first six months of the loan term, and an increased time for repayment,” Golden LEAF, which manages funds from the national tobacco settlement designated for North Carolina, said in the announcement.

“With this additional funding in place, applications will continue to be processed on a first-come, first-served basis,” the group said.

The NC COVID-19 Rapid Recovery Loan Program offers low interest loans of up to $50,000 with no payments for six month to businesses affected by COVID-19. If not repaid in six months, the loan will automatically convert to a term loan, the foundation added.

However, Golden LEAF does not handle the loans.

“Even though the funds were appropriated to the Golden LEAF Foundation, Golden LEAF does not make loans directly to small business owners,” an NC Rural Center spokesperson says.

“Golden LEAF provides the funds to us (NC Rural Center) and then we work with our statewide lending partners to get the funds to the small business owners that are approved for a loan.”

Read more about the program online.

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“The significant volume of applications in the pipeline is indicative of the severity of the statewide economic impact COVID-19 has had on North Carolina’s small businesses,” said Golden LEAF Foundation President Scott T. Hamilton. “Today’s action will enable the program to continue to provide much needed support to the State’s small businesses, especially those most at risk for permanent closure.”

Small-business owners apply for a loan at