Alderman wants to improve loan fund program

By ALEX ZANK - Daily News

Aug. 28, 2015

WEST BEND - A West Bend alderman, while following up with recipients of the city’s revolving loan fund, has developed a few ideas to build on what he sees as an already-successful program.

Alderman Chris Jenkins is in the midst of following up with businesses in repayment of the city’s loan fund, and plans to present the findings to City Council in September.

As part of the presentation, he said he will provide suggestions as discussion points for his fellow aldermen.

He will recommend the city advertise the program better, expand to smaller “mom-and-pop” shops and broaden the fund’s definition to more than just manufacturing.

The fund loans money to businesses that promise to pump investment back into the local economy through measurable economic benchmarks.

The purpose of the fund is economic growth in the city.

“Its primary use (is) to help businesses, primarily manufacturing, distribution and service, grow with money they would not normally have access to,” Jenkins said.

In addition, the loan fund has job creation and private investment benchmarks recipients must meet.

“When the city makes loans to businesses, those businesses make commitments to the city,” City Administrator T.J. Justice said. “Typically there’s a job creation component, maybe a job retention component. They’re committing to a certain level of new investment, and they’re also obviously committing to repaying the loan.”

Jenkins said the program can be a “special tool” in the city’s pocket, or something it could be proud of. “We need to have a conversation as a council on how we want to use that,” He added though the loan branches out from manufacturing businesses at times, the goal in 2012 was to expand on that sector. He wants to see if council has the appetite of expanding that objective as “anyone’s game.”

The city created this fund in 2012 with $1.7 million coming from a few different places in the city’s budget, Jenkins said.

Economic Development Washington County performs most of the monitoring for these loans, Justice said. “However, my staff does do a follow up with some of these loan recipients to also do an independent check,” he said.

Though he is gathering updated numbers, Jenkins said Thursday afternoon the businesses are generally meeting their goals as of May.

The businesses he is monitoring include Delta Defense LLC, Spaulding Clinical Research LLC, Federal Tool & Engineering, MD Design & Automation, Regal Ware Inc. and Affiliated Clinical Services.

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