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J’s Breakfast Club gets Gary's first microloan

J's Breakfast Club received Gary's first microloan through a new program. The restaurant's dining room is shown.

A popular breakfast restaurant in Gary secured the city's first microloan through a new program intended to encourage entrepreneurship.

The city and First Financial Bank are offering loans of up to $20,000 to small businesses that participate in the Gary Micro-Enterprise Initiative, a training program for small business owners in the city.

The first grant of $10,000 was awarded to Joslyn Kelly, who owns J’s Breakfast Club at 3669 Broadway in the city's Glen Park neighborhood. The restaurant near the Indiana University Northwest campus has built up a loyal following with menu items like shrimp and grits, chicken and waffles and three-egg omelets.

“Small businesses in our community contribute greatly to our local economies,” Gary Mayor Karen Freeman-Wilson said. “Not only do small businesses present different employment opportunities and diverse offerings in our communities, they inspire other aspiring entrepreneurs. The GMI program and this collaboration with First Financial is an awesome opportunity.”

J's Breakfast Club will use the grant to buy new restaurant equipment and expand its capacity. Kelly is looking to move J's Breakfast Club from its now-leased location to a bigger site.

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“I am excited about my business expanding and I sincerely thank the team effort of GMI, city of Gary and First Financial Bank to help make it happen,” Kelly said.

Gary and First Financial Bank are making up to $100,000 available through the microloan program to start or grow "small, minority and at-risk businesses within the Gary community that may not qualify for traditional bank financing due to loan size limits, credit conditions or other terms."

“We expect the micro-loan program to greatly impact new and existing small businesses within our branch’s community,” said Wendy Gasior, business development manager of the Gary Branch of First Financial Bank.

For more information about the Gary Micro-Enterprise Initiative, contact Diana Sandlin at 219-881-1312 or dsandlin@ci.gary.in.us.

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Business Reporter

Joseph S. Pete is a Lisagor Award-winning business reporter who covers steel, industry, unions, the ports, retail, banking and more. The Indiana University grad has been with The Times since 2013 and blogs about craft beer, culture and the military.