Iowa City COVID-19 Small Business Assistance

The City of Iowa City established the COVID-19 Small Business Assistance program to support our local, small businesses that have sustained economic losses due to COVID-19. Eligible businesses can receive funding to pay for expenses such as mortgage/rent, utilities, inventory, staff salaries or wages up to $15,000 or a maximum of $10,000 for businesses without employees. The City has contracted with the East Central Iowa Council of Governments (ECICOG) to administer this program. Questions about the application or the application process can be directed to ECICOG by emailing or calling 319-289-0075. The deadline to apply for these funds is 5 p.m. on Monday, Jan. 4, 2021

  • Applicant Guide
  • Apply for the Iowa City COVID-19 Small Business Assistance program (link to come).

Economic Development Loans, Forgivable Loans, and Grants

The City of Iowa City has access to a limited pool of funds to provide direct financial assistance for economic development activities and business development projects. The amount and type of funding available for any one project will depend upon the characteristics of that project and the financial need of the project. All projects requesting funding will be evaluated based upon the City of Iowa City Financial Assistance Eligibility Guidelines.

Economic Development CDBG Funds

The City provides two opportunities that utilize federal Community Development Block Grant (CDBG) funds from the U.S. Department of Housing and Urban Development to assist small businesses with five or fewer owners and/or employees (a microenterprise) or for organizations that provide technical assistance, advice and business services to owners of microenterprises and/or person developing microenterprises.

  • Small Business Resource Program: Provides loans up to $10,000 at 0% interest for working capital, start-up costs, equipment and business expansion to income qualifying small businesses. The business must match the City loan amount with either cash on hand to invest in the business or a commercial loan. In addition, for those with an approved City loan, a technical assistance grant, up to $5,000, is provided for website development, payroll services, and/or accounting and tax services. Applicants may apply year-round. Funds available until depleted.
  • Technical Assistance Grants to Organizations Providing Microenterprise Development: Grants up to $25,000 are available for organizations assisting microenterprises. Applications are accepted year-round.  Funds available until depleted. Contact the City's Neighborhood Services Coordinator at or (319) 356-5121 for more information.

MicroLoan Program for Small Business

The purpose of the MicroLoan Program is to provide low to moderate income persons with access to affordable loans to start or expand a business in Iowa City.

Council Economic Development Fund

This fund is used to provide loans, forgivable loans, and grants to business development projects and programs which diversify and increase the property tax base by encouraging the retention and expansion of existing industry and attracting industries that have growth potential and are compatible with existing industries.

Tax Increment Financing

Tax increment financing (TIF) is a mechanism used to provide financial assistance for projects within a designated urban renewal area and TIF district. Iowa City's urban renewal areas.

Click here for a map of the urban renewal areas in Iowa City. Learn more about TIF on our Resources and Documents page.

The difference between taxes derived from unimproved, underdeveloped, or underutilized property and those derived after its development, redevelopment, or expansion is the "increment" of taxes which may be pledged by the City to help finance project expenses incurred by the City or the developer in furtherance of the development.

The TIF ordinance makes available to the City incremental tax revenues for repayment of project-related expenses or the provision of a property tax rebate. The incremental tax revenues include those levied by and for other taxing jurisdictions, such as the county, school district, and community college.

TIF financing is available in the form of public infrastructure improvements or in the form of forgivable loans or property tax rebates for qualifying businesses. The amount of available tax increment financing is dependent upon the amount of new taxable property value added to a property.

Partial Industrial Property Tax Exemption

Any projects which add value to real property (building and site improvements) that are classified as either an industrial building, warehousing/distribution center, or research-service facility qualifies for the partial industrial property tax exemption. The exemption is for a period of five years where a portion of the new value in a qualifying is exempted from taxation at the following rate:
Year One 75%; Year Two 60%; Year; Three 45%; Year Four 30%; Year Five 15%