monopoly_money.jpgA successful San Francisco program that provides loans to small businesses was given a $1.5 million dollar boost today, which Mayor Ed Lee said this morning is a first step in his commitment to provide $5 million to the program.

Since July 2009, the city’s revolving loan fund has provided $670,000 in loans to 27 San Francisco small businesses, which generated 73 jobs, according to the Mayor’s Office of Economic and Workforce Development, which manages the program.

“That success of that program has resonated with us,” Lee said this morning at a news conference inside Brenda’s French Soul Food, a restaurant on Polk Street that received a loan from the fund in 2011.

The city is providing $1 million through a supplement budget appropriation, introduced at today’s Board of Supervisors meeting.

Lee called small businesses “the backbone” of the city, adding, “we need these store fronts that are vacant eliminated from our viewpoint and activated.”

Supervisor Scott Wiener and Board President David Chiu also attended the announcement at Brenda’s, which Chiu called an “anchor for what we are trying to do all up and down Polk Street.”

Wiener praised the loan program and said it is one “where you invest a small amount of money and really get a big bang for your buck.”

The remaining $500,000 will come from a $430,000 contribution from San Francisco-headquartered bank Wells Fargo and $247,000 in small business loan repayments and other sources, according to the mayor’s office.

According to a Wells Fargo representative at the announcement, the corporation has been providing loans to small businesses for more than 160 years, when the city was first taking shape during the Gold Rush.

“San Francisco has a special meaning to us,” said Tracy Curtis, a Wells Fargo regional president. “We at Wells Fargo certainly are dedicated to partnering with the city of San Francisco and making this once again the thriving community that it’s always been.”

Brenda Buenviaje opened her Creole diner in 2007 and was recently able to expand service to dinner five days a week in addition to breakfast, lunch and brunch on the weekends.

Diners frequently had to wait 30 minutes or longer to snag a seat in the tiny restaurant, but Buenviaje was able to double the busy restaurant’s space and capacity with a $50,000 loan from the small business loan program, which is administered by Working Solutions.

As a thanks to Lee for his support, Buenviaje presented the mayor with steaming bowls of Brenda’s signature dishes–shrimp and grits and chicken andouille gumbo.

“I’ve seen the lines, and they don’t let the mayor cut the lines,” Lee said outside the restaurant after the announcement.

Patricia Decker, Bay City News

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