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Razor Sharp Fitness and O&H Danish Bakery are the latest recipients of the ZERO Loan Program. The program is a business lending initiative built to provide immediate financial relief to local businesses hit by the COVID-19 pandemic. The Racine County Economic Development Corp. (RCEDC) administers the program.

Terri and Michael Bannon, owners of Racine’s Razor Sharp Fitness, used the ZERO Loan Program to purchase new fitness equipment. These steps will increase memberships and alleviate the effects of the pandemic. The growth in revenue generated will allow the company to create nine full-time jobs, RCEDC reported in a news release.

“After closing our facilities when the pandemic struck, we opened our doors in May, but with a lot of uncertainty,” said Terri Bannon, Razor Sharp co-owner. “We were planning to place orders for new equipment before the pandemic, but because of stalled operations, we did not proceed. The ZERO Loan Program allowed us to purchase the equipment to help grow our business.”

O&H Danish Bakery saw its daily sales to businesses and cafeterias decline due to the pandemic. Further, because of employees working remotely and offices closed or at reduced staffing levels. Peter Olesen, O&H vice president, saw the Program as an opportunity to purchase equipment that would positively impact the company’s e-commerce division.

“We’ve been fortunate to have a strong relationship with RCEDC over the years,” Olesen said in a news release. “When we discovered this program, we knew it would provide the opportunity needed to not only survive these difficult times but allow our company to innovate and grow our mission.”

Hestia Heat Treat and TS Food Packaging are other Racine County businesses that have also used the ZERO loan program to purchase new equipment.

More about the ZERO Loan Program

RCEDC last year established the ZERO Loan Program using a $3.6 million grant from the U.S. Economic Development Administration (EDA). The program offers business borrowers interest rates fixed at 0% through June 2022, no administration fees, and 18-months of no principal payments. About 25% of the grant has already been approved and disbursed to local businesses.

Eligible businesses must have fewer than 200 employees and applicants must explain the impact of COVID-19 on their business. Also, how the funding will benefit Racine County.

RCEDC’s business financing team, Business Lending Partners (BLP) will provide guidance with eligibility criteria and the loan application. Any Racine County business interested in applying for the ZERO Loan Program should contact BLP’s Finance Manager, Carolyn Engel, at (262) 898-7420 or

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Paul Holley is retired from careers in journalism, public relations and marketing but not from life. These days, he pretty much writes about what he feels like writing. You may contact him directly at:...

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