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Reviewed by Joel Ohman
Founder, CFP®

UPDATED: Oct 11, 2012

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The Lewis County Industrial Development Agency has begun to accept applications for a federally funded commercial loan program that hopes to generate small business growth and expansion.

“This is more targeted for startup businesses. Every loan must create at least one job,” said agency Executive Director Richard H. Porter in an interview with the Watertown Daily Times.

The U.S. Department of Agriculture awarded $90,000 to the Lewis County IDA over the last summer. Subsequently, the Lewis County IDA developed the Lewis County Rural Business Enterprise Revolving Loan Fund.

The Fund is offering low-interest commercial loans ranging from $5,000 to $25,000 with maximum repayment periods of five years.

“This pot of money is not to compete with banks,” said Mr. Porter.

The program is capable of supplementing other financing as well as providing gap funding that may be needed to undertake a project, he noted. Additionally, Porter explained that while the program’s limited commercial loans wouldn’t help finance large projects, they could still generate small-business growth in the county.

“If we can just do five new loans and get five or 10 new jobs, that’s like hitting a home run,” said Porter.

Fortunately for the county—and resident small businesses—more federal funding may be approved if the program is successful.

“The USDA wants to see this money lent out,” said Porter.

In order to obtain the money, applicants must meet with a representative of the Small Business Development Center.

Interested entrepreneurs must first complete a business plan. Fortunately, this requirement may be waived for existing businesses. However, all borrowers will be responsible for a nonrefundable application fee of $250.

“There must be some form of personal investment,” said Porter.

Although applications are to be looked over by a local loan review committee, the Lewis County IDA board will have to give final approval for commercial loans.

The Lewis County IDA is also going to be absorbing a revolving loan fund which was previously administered by Snow Belt Housing Co. Inc.

The fund totals to roughly $42,000 and may be combined with the USDA federal funds for commercial loans—possibly enabling the funding of larger business plans.

The Lewis County IDA will also be lending $14,000 in loan funds on behalf of the Lewis County Development Corp—a further expansion of its duties.