Thu July 25, 2013
State Encourages Communities To Work Together On Regional Loans
As a way to help expand local businesses, Wisconsin officials are encouraging communities to work together on regional loan funds.
There are about 200 revolving loan funds in Wisconsin that use federal money. The loans are given to new and existing businesses.
In order to access the most money, the state is now encouraging counties and municipalities to regionalize the revolving loan funds. By combining individual funds into regional ones, the state says communities will have access to larger pools of money with less federal restrictions.
Vicki Markussen — the executive director of 7 Rivers Alliance, a La Crosse-based group that promotes regional economic growth — says the loans will be more flexible.
“Before, it was primarily spent on ways to expand their businesses in ways that would have job creation,” says Markussen. “Under this new proposal, there could be job creation based on a new façade they’re able to do to their building. It could be based on a small microloan.”
Markussen says in the past, many of the revolving loan funds weren’t being used while others were maxed out. She says the new regional groups can ensure that more loan money is used.
Individual counties will be able to distribute small loans, but the regional fund’s board will vote on larger loans.
La Crosse, Monroe, and Crawford counties and a few villages are the latest to pledge funds to the Western Wisconsin Economic Development Fund. More counties are expected to sign on. Three other regional loan funds have been established in the state.