December 17th, 2014 ~ Vol. 84 No. 49
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Community Futures proposes loan program to encourage investment
Crowsnest Pass Herald Front Page
Community Futures Website
EZRA BLACK
Pass Herald Reporter
Community Futures Crowsnest Pass is unveiling a business improvement loan program and is asking the municipality to pay the interest on the loans for a period of five years.
At a presentation to council on Dec. 9, chairperson Shane Stewart said Community Futures has earmarked $400,000 for the Municipal Historic Overlay Proposal Business Improvement Loan Program.
“Right across the community we’re starting to see some decent investment taking place,” said Stewart. “What we’re hoping to do is to take that and capitalize on it.”
Local businesses can apply for up to $20,000 in interest free loans, while the municipality would be paying a fixed, risk free amount of interest, said Stewart.
The program is designed to complement the ongoing Heritage Inventory Project, where property owners can apply for up to $50,000 a year in matching funds if their building is designated historic.
However, a building does not have to be designated historic to apply for the Community Futures program.
Stewart said that if a business takes out a loan and then defaults or closes, the municipality would not be held liable.
There seemed to be some confusion over when these loans would be handed out. Councillor Dean Ward pointed out that the municipality could be on the hook for interest payments for a maximum of ten years if a business takes out a loan on the fifth year of the program and takes five years to repay it.
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Stewart acknowledged the point and said Community Futures would like to see the entire $400,000 loaned out by the second year of the program, though he did not offer details on how this would be done.
Larry Saloff, business analyst with Community Futures, said the loans can be used for external beautification but can also be used to upgrade the operating side of a business including computers and point of sale hardware, “any type of equipment a small business might need to upgrade,” said Saloff.
Saloff said the consquences for defaulting on the loans would depend on what kind of security a business would have in place.
Across North America many communities are offering incentives or tax rebates to encourage development.
Across the border in Sparwood, their municipal government introduced a tax incentive program covering areas close to the downtown core offering up to 100 per cent municipal tax exemption.
The Municipal Historic Overlay Proposal Business Improvement Loan Program will be available if council decides to approve the program.
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December 17th ~ Vol. 84 No. 49
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