The Best Lenders and Programs for Small Business Loans in Georgia

by Kieran Daly
March 26, 2024
The Best Lenders and Programs for Small Business Loans in Georgia

When company owners need to borrow money to smooth over cash flow issues or to expand their business, many approach their bank first. But the truth is that entrepreneurs seeking small business loans in Georgia may be able to borrow more money and on better terms if they approach other lenders instead.

In this article, we introduce you to nine other options open to SMB owners in the state of Georgia.

9 Options for Small Business Loans in Georgia

Commercial banks set notoriously high standards that the companies they lend money to must meet before they release a dollar to them. Below, find nine alternative sources for small business loans in Georgia.

1. U.S. Small Business Administration (SBA)

The U.S. Small Business Administration (SBA) offers a range of small business loans to Georgia companies that have trouble accessing mainstream financing through commercial banks. Borrowers can apply for an SBA loan by approaching a certified development company (CDC).

The three main SBA loan programs are:

  • SBA 7(a): The SBA 7(a) loan fund provides up to $5 million that’s repayable over 10 or 25 years. Permitted uses include working capital, equipment and machinery purchases, buying and improving commercial real estate, and the refinancing of existing business debt.

  • SBA 504: The SBA 504 loan fund is for companies wanting to purchase major equipment and machinery, refinance existing commercial debt facilities, or fund commercial real estate projects. 504 loans can’t be used for inventory or working capital. The repayment period is either 10, 20, or 25 years, and the maximum you can borrow is $5.5 million.

  • SBA Microloan: Ideal for startups and nonprofits, you can apply for up to $50,000 with the SBA Microloan program. You also benefit from access to business assistance and training.

You must meet certain criteria to qualify for an SBA loan. Use the SBA’s Lender Match system to help you find a lender near you.

2. Ace Loans

Access to Capital for Entrepreneurs (ACE) is one of the country’s top 75 largest non-profit organizations. Its mission is to promote business development in North Georgia and the metro Atlanta area.

ACE is a major provider of small business loans in Georgia and it offers four loan programs to businesses that have been in operation for two years or more:

  • Small Business Loans: Borrow between $15,000 to $50,000 over 60 months at a fixed interest rate of up to 12%.

  • Commercial Loans: Apply for $50,001 to $1 million of financing, which has repayment terms of up to 84 months and a 12% interest rate (although the rate may vary based on credit qualifications).

  • City of Atlanta Commercial Loans: Loan amounts of $50,001 to $250,000 are available to entrepreneurs who are residents of Atlanta or operate a business within the city. Financing is provided at a 10% fixed interest rate, although the rate may vary according to your credit qualifications. You can pay back the loan over a maximum period of  60 months.

  • Metro Atlanta Commercial Loans: This is the same as the City of Atlanta Commercial Loans program but intended for entrepreneurs who reside or operate a business within Metro Atlanta.

ACE also offers a 1.99% Energy Efficiency Loan that businesses can use to borrow $15,000 to $50,000 to improve their energy efficiency. There is a much lower interest rate on these loans of 1.99%, and there are available repayment terms of up to five years. The loan is not available for new construction projects.

3. Invest Atlanta

Invest Atlanta is the city’s economic development authority. They offer a wide range of services to help businesses, in particular an innovative tax credit program for different sectors.

They have a broad range of lending options. Here’s a sampling of the programs available:

  • Phoenix Fund: You can borrow between $10,000 and $100,000 from this fund, but for every $35,000 you borrow, you need to show how you’ll create or retain a job. The repayment period is 3-7 years, although that can be extended to 15 years if the loan is for real estate. The interest rate is half of the prime rate plus 2% ( subject to a 4% minimum).

  • Atlanta Recovery Loan Program: Borrow between $25,000 and $100,000 at no more than 3% interest over a maximum period of seven years to purchase commercial property and land, acquire inventory, and more. The loan can also be used for working capital. 

  • Commercial Down Payment Assistance: Get help buying commercial property with a loan of up to $250,000 repayable over a maximum period of 10 years to use as a down payment on a commercial mortgage. The interest rate is between 1% and 3%.

  • Atlanta Startup Growth Loan Program: Designed for tech startups and supported by Wells Fargo, you can borrow up to $150,000 to buy new or update existing assets. You'll need a go-to-market strategy, a minimal viable product, and have bootstrapped to this point.

  • Economic Opportunity Fund: The Economic Opportunity Fund is for companies that want to buy or upgrade their property and business equipment as well as fund employee training.

  • Industrial Revenue Bond: Borrow between $2 million and $10 million at lower-than-market interest rates for a construction project or to improve your manufacturing facilities. The repayment term is the useful lifetime of the assets you're financing.

4. Albany Community Together

Albany Community Together (ACT!) is on a mission to help those from low-wealth backgrounds who have trouble accessing mainstream finance borrow the capital they need to build up their businesses.

ACT! currently offers the Working Capital Flex Program to entrepreneurs, which is a form of revenue-based financing. With revenue-based financing, you borrow an agreed sum of money and then pay back a fixed proportion of your monthly revenues (for example, 10%) until the loan is settled. So in good months, you pay more than you do in bad months.

5. Delta Community Credit Union

Founded by eight Delta Air Lines employees in 1940, the Delta Community Credit Union is now the largest credit union in Georgia. Their founding mission was to help others achieve financial success, and they offer a range of products to consumers and businesses.

They provide a commercial real estate lending service, equipment and vehicle loans, and a working capital line of credit.

6. Small Business Assistance Corporation (SBAC)

The Small Business Assistance Corporation (SBAC) is a community development financial institution (CDFI) based in the city of Savannah. CFDIs provide loans, grants, and other financial services to underserved or low-income communities.

The SBAC offers a wide range of small business loans for Georgia companies, including:

  • SBAC Direct Loan Program: Borrow up to $150,000 for almost any business purpose and pay it back over a maximum of 10 years with a fixed or variable interest rate.

  • Savannah Regional Small Business Capital Fund: A $100,000 loan is available to businesses for almost any purpose for up to 10 years with a negotiable interest rate.

  • Small Business Contract/Invoice Loan Program: Draw down up to $150,000 on existing contracts and outstanding invoices.

  • Small Steps Lending Program: Access up to $15,000 and pay it back over five years or less. The interest rate is 8% for loans over $10,000 and 8.75% for loans equal to under $10,000, but eligible Savannah businesses can get a lower rate. 

  • USDA Rural IRP Loan Program: You can apply for up to $150,000 if you are based in certain rural areas in South Carolina and Georgia for almost any business purpose. The term of the loan is up to 15 years, and the interest rate is fixed at 9.5%.

  • USDA Rural Microenterprise Loan Program: Up to $50,000 is available for businesses in certain rural areas in South Carolina and Georgia over 10 years or less at a fixed 9.25% interest rate. You can borrow the money for almost any purpose except real estate.

  • City of Savannah Business Loan Program: Apply for $150,000 for any purpose over a term of 10 years or less at a 4% interest if you’re in the city of Savannah target areas. The interest rate is 6.5% if you’re outside the target area.

  • Credit Building Loan Program: Build back your credit score with the Credit Building Loan Program. Up to $1,000 is available with these microloans for a period of one year at 0% interest.

The SBAC is also a CDC, meaning that you can apply for SBA loans through it. It’s also a CDFI, so you can access State Small Business Credit Initiative (SSBCI) funding, which is explained in the next section.

7. Georgia Department of Community Affairs

Since 2010, the Georgia Department of Community Affairs, a state government agency, has operated the SSBCI. Like the SBA, they work with third parties on programs to lend or invest capital in local companies.

Business owners can access these two loans via their bank or credit union:

  • Georgia Loan Participation Program (GA LPP): Under the GA LLP, the state buys up to 30% of the value of a small business loan to reduce the bank’s potential exposure to bad debt. Companies with up to 750 employees are eligible and can borrow between $100,000 and $5 million. Funds can be used for start-up costs (including franchise fees), equipment and machinery, inventory, working capital, and projects associated with commercial real estate that the business will occupy.

  • Georgia Small Business Credit Guaranty (SBCG): The SBCG is similar to the GA LLP in all regards except that the SSBCI offers a guarantee of 50% of the loan. The arrangement charges for the lending institution are higher on this program which may be reflected in your interest rate.

Another option offered by the agency is the Georgia CDFI Program, but to access this, you need to apply through a CDFI. This program is targeted toward underserved communities with the intention of providing loans with the most favorable terms to encourage growth and job creation in areas that need it most.

For the next two programs, entrepreneurs should approach participating venture capital funds:

  • Georgia Venture Capital Program: This is a $30 million program designed to invest in early-stage businesses based in disadvantaged communities. The minimum investment is $1 million and the maximum is $3 million.

  • Georgia Equity Direct Program: This $20 million fund targets pre-seed, seed, and early-stage businesses owned by entrepreneurs from socially and economically disadvantaged backgrounds. The minimum investment is $250,000 and the maximum is $1 million.

8. Southwest Georgia United

Southwest Georgia United, like SBAC, is also a CDFI that offers business financing options to entrepreneurs in the local community.

Their range of small business loans for Georgia companies includes:

  • Small Business Loan: Borrow up to $250,000 providing only basic information and receive funding within days. The minimum loan term is 12 months and the maximum is 10 years with an interest rate as low as 8%.

  • Construction Loan: This program is for investing in construction, capital equipment and technology. You can borrow up to $250,000 to be paid back between 24 and 72 months.

  • Business Financing: Up to $1 million in funding is available for furniture, fixtures, and equipment; remodeling or re-imaging projects; and property improvement plans over 24 to 48 months.

9. Online Lenders

There are dozens of online lenders you can approach for capital without needing to prepare a business plan or financial projections. Many of them have more relaxed eligibility requirements, meaning they might accept an application a traditional bank wouldn’t.

Each lender has their own suite of products that can range from business lines of credit to working capital advances. The application process is generally much more streamlined than with other lenders. You may even be able to apply online, get an answer, and receive funding within 24 hours if approved.

Secure the Capital Your Company Needs With a Small Business Loan in Georgia

Small business owners in Georgia benefit from having access to a wide range of institutions that provide them with the capital they need to grow their companies.

Thanks to the rise of online lenders, entrepreneurs have a lot more choices now in the state and across America. One benefit of working with online lenders is the speed. Sometimes you can get a decision and the capital you applied for within 24 hours.

Backd is one of those lenders. You can get a near-immediate decision on a revolving business line of credit of up to $750,000 or a working capital advance of between $10,000 and $2 million.

Apply for business financing with Backd, and get the capital you need within a day.

What would you do with the right amount of capital?

Working Capital Advance

Easy payment structures offer amounts with fast turnaround, Simple and easy process to access working capital.

  • Flexible - no collateral required
  • $10K - $2M
  • Terms up to 16 months
  • Automatic daily or weekly, or semi-monthly payments

Business Line of Credit

Get instant access to revolving credit with unlimited terms, and the best rates for your business.

  • Draw funds anytime
  • $10K - $750K
  • Unlimited terms, incredible rates
  • Soft credit pull that doesn't affect your credit score