Small Business Saturday aims to help locally-owned stores

      (Photo: Comedy_nose via Creative Commons)

      BALTIMORE (AP) - Baltimore Mayor Stephanie Rawlings-Blake will be touring small businesses in the city to highlight a recently established loan program to help local firms hire new employees.

      The visits are part of "Small Business Saturday," a day conceived by American Express on which shoppers are encouraged to patronize local specialty shops instead of the big-box stores that dominate Black Friday.

      The loan program was established this week. Eligible businesses can receive loans from $5,000 to $30,000 to help them hire employees. To be eligible, businesses must bring in less than $1 million in annual revenue, and the owners must have good credits scores.

      Rawlings-Blake plans to visit several businesses Saturday afternoon.{}

      Dozens of small businesses across Maryland, Virginia, and the District will take part in the nationwide "Small Business Saturday" event, which was founded in 2010.

      For a list of some participating small businesses, click here.