Wednesday, August 17, 2011

Darke County CIC begins New Local Loan Program

USDA Grant brings new funding for local business
DARKE COUNTY- Courtesy of a USDA grant, the Darke County Community Improvement Corporation (CIC) has announced the creation of a new low interest revolving loan program for local small business. The program is the first of its kind ever offered by the county CIC and will put over $120,000 of new money into play for local development efforts. According to CIC President Jim Poeppelman, the program is exactly what the county’s Partnering for Progress campaign (P4P) is all about.

“One of the goals of P4P is to increase the tools available to the local business community, whether it is financial or other,” stated Poeppelman. “This grant obviously fits the bill. Any chance that we get to leverage state or federal dollars for the good of the local community, we’ll take advantage of.”

According to Poeppelman, the Darke County CIC is the stewards of the P4P funding. P4P is a collaborative effort between the county economic development office, the Darke County Community Improvement Corporation (CIC), the county commissioners, and dozens of public and private investors across the county. It aims to promote both the expansion of existing county industry and the attraction of new business.

The funds will be available for dispersement after Sept 1. According to Economic Development Director Marc Saluk, the program is far easier to implement then many other low-interest loan programs and enables more local control. Furthermore, the CIC can apply for additional funds from USDA to refresh the account in future years. Between that and interest payments, Saluk hopes that the loan program will grow much bigger over time.

“Hopefully, this program can help a few businesses complete deals that would not have been able to otherwise occur. Or, at least, make an existing arrangement less costly,” commented Saluk. “We are fortunate to have this program in place. Similar ones in other Ohio counties have been run with great success.”

Saluk also explained that the CIC’s application received the top score from USDA in the state, with much of the credit going to economic development’s office manager, Melanie Nealeigh.

“That top score is no small thing since that honor carried with it an additional $17,000 from USDA for the loan program. An extra $17,000 that required no local match, “ Saluk explained.

Saluk said that the CIC already has several companies interested in utilizing the program and is in discussions with them at this time. The CIC’s executive board will act as the review committee for loan applications though Saluk explained that he is putting in place a committee of bankers that will also make recommendations on the loan applications.

“This is exciting for us. It’s not a huge sum of money but every little bit helps. Any programs that we can put into place locally that will increase our independence in development project from Columbus or D.C. is a good thing,” said Poeppelman.

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