The McLean County Executive Judge’s office wants to encourage new small business owners to take advantage of a loan program through the Green River Area Development District.
According to the GRADD website, the Revolving Credit Fund (RLF) was created to develop and assist with financial packages for companies in the industrial, commercial, agricultural and service sectors. It is designed to have an impact on the economic growth of the region.
“It really is for anyone who has been affected by COVID,” said Gina Boaz, GRADD economic development specialist. “It can be for retail services, restaurants, parking lots, small businesses …”
“It’s really meant to help a small business start up or provide that working capital,” McLean County Executive Judge Curtis Dame said. “You have to be able to buy pens, paper, all that. If you are starting a new business, buy supplies – maybe these are just capital investments like furniture, incidentals. You’re going to have to figure out how to make this work and it won’t be a readily available ROI. An office will get you where you want to go, but it won’t pay you back like a piece of manufacturing equipment.
Joanna Shake, executive director of GRADD, said the loan came at the perfect time for some people.
“Some people were on the verge of closing their businesses or losing their jobs,” Shake said. “It was the right time to start a business. “
Funding is available for small businesses for interest-free start-ups or expansions for the first year. The loans will help with the purchase of machinery, equipment, working capital and the development of additional industrial, commercial or tourism businesses.
Funds can range from $ 5,000 to $ 250,000. The program has a 0% interest rate for the first year, repayment terms of five to 15 years, and a reduction in the injection of collateral and equity.
“One of the key things about this is that a lot of our young and new businesses here in this county will be eligible for this program,” Dame said. “It’s pretty easy.”
Boaz and Shake said that despite their willingness to help, interest in the county appears to be lacking.
“We currently have no requests from McLean County,” Boaz said. “People may not know. “
“We’re here to help,” Shake said. “We are open to all ideas.
Boaz said the program has been shared across many mediums such as social media and print publications.
Dame said that in his time as an executive judge, he can see why some are reluctant to apply for the program.
“One of the biggest barriers that I see in the county for people is not dreaming or wanting to do business,” Dame said. “These are the complexities of equity. What assets are you going to need to link with the funding you have? “
Boaz said some might think they are revealing too much about their financial situation, but there is always interest.
“People don’t like to share this information,” Boaz said. “But we have a lot of people who want an app. We are trying to help them get through this period.
Dame said people, while hopeful, can risk too much and believes the program can ease that burden.
“The last thing we want to see… is that some people are so passionate about the business that they sometimes put their own mortgage on the go,” Dame said. “My goal is to be where people don’t have to do this. “
But Dame said potential candidates weren’t the only ones trying their luck.
“GRADD is taking, what we consider, a little risk to make sure we get these loans,” Dame said. “But sometimes if someone wants to start a new business, especially if you’re straight out of college… you might not have the equity or the collateral that you can provide.”
Dame said GRADD is ready to assist those interested in the program on an individual basis, even completing the application in person and over the phone.
“In today’s world, to be remembered means a lot,” said Dame.
“Our main function is to help with any possible development,” Shake said. “We’re even going to drive up to the county and meet up.”
Currently, there are no county success stories regarding the use of this program. Dame thinks people who have a new business and a detailed plan should consider applying.
“This program, from an executive judge’s perspective to help our local small businesses, either get through this crisis… or start a new adventure and diversify,” Dame said. “It’s a primary opportunity or resource to use for that. “
Applications are available on the GRADD website with the application fee waived.