CARIBOU, Maine — A ‘yes’ vote on Question 3 this November will afford Maine the opportunity to extend a program that has supported small businesses and created local jobs across the state for 20 years.
Small businesses like Goughan’s Berry Farm in Caribou, Lakeview Restaurant in St. Agatha and Littleton Pit Stop have all benefited from the financing available through the Regional Economic Development Revolving Loan Program (REDRLP) and the companion Commercial Loan Insurance (CLI) program. Since REDRLP was created by the Legislature in 1993, 772 revolving loans of $16.2 million have been disbursed, helping to create and retain about 10,500 jobs in total. During that time the Business Finance Division at Northern Maine Development Commission (NMDC) has made 94 loans to 73 different clients.
‘Yes’ on Question 3 will authorize a bond that will continue funding these programs and provide $8 million in funds to make flexible loans to small businesses to create jobs, revitalize downtowns and strengthen the rural economy and provide $4 million in funds to ensure portions of loans to small businesses to spur investment and innovation, NMDC officials contend.
“Small businesses sustain Maine’s rural economy, providing jobs for our friends and neighbors,” said Bob Clark, executive director NMDC. “One of the barriers for small business ownership and growth in our state has been a lack of access to flexible capital, the kind of capital that works closely with conventional bank funds in filling gaps and helping a business start or expand.”
The program was created during Governor McKernan’s administration, and carried through under every subsequent administration.
REDRLP is managed by the Finance Authority of Maine (FAME), which grants the authorized pool of funds to local economic development agencies, including NMDC, with the requirement that they establish ongoing revolving loan funds to support the program. Borrowers who meet program eligibility criteria are able to access the funds. Commercial Loan Insurance (CLI) enables FAME to issue insurance to financial institutions that are making loans to business borrowers.
Multiple, diverse organizations focused on fueling the state’s growth support these two programs. “Maine needs strategic investment in small business to create jobs in communities across the state,” said GrowSmart Maine Executive Director Nancy Smith. “With strong demand for investments and historic low interest rates, the timing is right for these proposals.”
Visit the Mainers for Small Businesses Facebook page, at www.facebook.com/mainersforsmallbusiness for more information.