Three Douglas County communities have been awarded $166,000 in funds to begin loaning to expanding rural businesses or startups.
Baldwin City, Eudora and Lecompton were selected as 2011 Entrepreneurship Communities through NetWork Kansas on Monday. The program ultimately will allow the communities to jointly make about $166,000 in loans to existing businesses or startups within their communities.
“We’re hoping that it will really spark some growth and development in the communities,” said John Fiore, a Eudora council member and one of the organizers of the local effort. “We think it can really help those businesses that need a little capital to expand or offer a new product, or for those budding entrepreneurs who need that last bit of capital to get their dreams off the ground.”
The program is part of a larger effort by NetWork Kansas, a state-created organization that aims to promote small-business growth in the state. The organization has provided $1.54 million worth of funding to start similar loan programs in more than a dozen other communities in Kansas. Since 2007, the loan programs have resulted in the creation or retention of about 350 jobs, according to the organization. The state funds the program by awarding tax credits to the communities, which in turn sell the credits to get the cash needed to fund the loan program.
The loan program is designed to last for many years. As businesses repay the loans, the money will be put back into the program and loaned again, Fiore said.
Leaders from the three communities have appointed financial professionals from the area to serve on a committee that will evaluate the fiscal feasibility of the applications.
Douglas County businesses interested in applying for loans should contact Collin Bielser, the economic analyst for the city of Eudora, at 542-4111 or at firstname.lastname@example.org.