Getting to Nitty Gritty of Carroll County Small Business Loan Plan

Carroll County commissioners will hear the details of the small business revolving loan program in open session today.

The approved a $500,000 small business loan fund in late June to help local startups get up and running. The commissioners are scheduled to hear the details on how it will work in open session Thursday.

Several weeks ago the commissioners voted 4-1 (Robin Bartlett-Frazier voting against) to accept a $250,000 state of Maryland small business loan fund grant and to transfer $250,000 in matching county funds into the economic development budget. The county matching funds are dollars already budgeted for the Department of Economic Development; they are just being transferred into this particular fund.

Do you think this is a wise use of the county's economic development dollars?

The state grant is available from state funds in fiscal year 2012 and fiscal year 2013. Each fiscal year, the grant request is for $250,000 and requires a 100 percent match from the county.

Commissioner Doug Howard said it's difficult for small business startups and expansions to get loans and this program will fill a gap to help local startups build their financial portfolio so they can get commercial loans later.

Carroll County Economic Development Administrators, Jon Weetman and Jack Lyburn explained to commissioners that individual loans might be as much as $25,000 and a set of criteria would be established to help determine eligibility.

Bartlett-Frazier said she had concerns about how the program will function.

"Generally speaking, my gut is the government shouldn’t be in the banking business,"  Bartlett-Frazier said. "We shouldn’t be picking winners and losers and taking risks with the citizens' money."

Frazier also said she's concerned that the commissioners were being asked to vote on the program without specific details, including lending criteria and a collections process.

Commissioner Richard Rothschild said that he would vote in favor of transferring the money but only if the economic development staff presented suitable plans for the lending program, to include Bartlett-Frazier's concerns, in early July.

Today the commissioners will hear the details of the small business revolving loan program that will be administered by the Carroll County Economic Development Department.The open session will begin with public comment at 1:30 p.m. in the County Office Building.

"Credit is very tight," said Commissioner Haven Shoemaker. "One of the reasons we have an economic development department is to spur economic development. Small businesses are the backbone of the American economy and if we need to help them get off the ground, I’m 100 percent for it."


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Kym Byrnes July 13, 2012 at 05:59 PM
A Patch blogger weighs in on the topic: http://patch.com/B-cd2H
Kym Byrnes July 13, 2012 at 05:59 PM
SOUTHWESTMINSTER July 13, 2012 at 06:58 PM
I don't trust the county (commishes) to make that decision in an unbiased way. There is too much partianship in this county Your words ......................
John D. Witiak July 13, 2012 at 09:34 PM
Look, I find a lot of the actions the BOC takes are problematic, BUT... let's take a breath here. For AG Preservation under Mr. Robertson, I congratulate him and the BOC, as did the state. I like attempts to be creative as long as the creativity doesn't turn into a scam. There is some risk, of course, of failure but just because Howard consults to help small business doesn't mean that he is setting up a framework to carry out some shady deals. Actually, we may learn from his business expertise. And, hey, the Bretheren Service Center helps micro startups all over the world and all kinds of good comes from that. Besides, growing businesses is healthier tax wise than a housing development dumped onto ag land. Continued vigilance is the real key here. Let the ball be with the BOC. If their boldness pays dividends for our Carroll County, I will congratulate them. If there is some failure, I will congratulate them for their creative attempt. But watch out if there is anything crooked. This Democrat will then demand swift justice from the States Attorney.
JoeEldersburg July 16, 2012 at 05:30 PM
I didn't hear the BOC would have any say in who gets the loans, nor do I believe that the currently rigged banking system is fair to those in need. This seems like a responsible use of money to fulfill economic development goals. I just wish the lenders could realize that if an owner is an "S" corp, it really doesnt matter where the business is located, as long as the owner is a Carroll resident. Carroll is not a top business destination,on, but with more investment in higher performing schools and a better infrastructure, we could be more attractive to wealthier families, which lowers the tax burden by virtue of higher property values. Simple economics.


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