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Forgivable loans helped Central Corridor businesses during LRT work, but some still suffer

Forgivable loans were a safety net for many businesses that suffered during construction of the soon-to-open Central Corridor line.

More than 200 businesses affected by construction of the Central Corridor light rail line have received about $3.8 million in forgivable loans through a government-run program. says the loans, of up to $20,000, were meant as a safety net for businesses along the route that had access and parking programs during the four-year construction process. The loans will be forgiven over time if the businesses stay put.

But Al Loth of Midway Pro Bowl says he’s still hurting: “Yes, I did get the $20,000 forgivable loan, which was gone in 10 days. It wasn’t near enough. It was nice, but not near enough.”

Thu’s Salon received an $8,335 forgivable loan. “It helped us through the slow times when we should’ve been busy, but business was slow,” owner Andy Nguyen told Watchdog.  “So it helped us pay the rent and stuff.”

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The loans came from the The Central Corridor Ready for Rail Small Business Forgivable Loan Program, which included subsidies from the Metropolitan Council and the city of St. Paul, the story said.

The 11-mile light rail line, connecting downtown St. Paul with downtown Minneapolis, via University Avenue, is scheduled to begin operating June 14.