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Help is here just for the asking

By Staff | Feb 28, 2016

With the start of the downtown Blue Earth Main Street reconstruction project looming on the horizon, businesses are gearing up for what could be a rough financial summer.

In fact, the reconstruction work is expected to start on June 1. And, another important date for businesses to remember is May 1. That is the date by which all awnings with posts attached to public sidewalks must be removed.

Luckily, there is financial help for businesses to assist them through the construction period, help with their own construction and remodeling plans, and pay for things such as new entrances, signs, windows and much more.

And yes, new awnings – to replace those that have to be removed – are included in what is covered.

“We have an array of grant and loan programs to assist businesses,” says Tim Clawson, executive director of Faribault County Development Corporation (FCDC). “These are mainly funded by the city of Blue Earth’s Economic Development Authority (EDA).”

The FCDC is the hired agency to administer these grant/loan programs for the city, and they have been holding a series of seminars to explain what they have to offer.

There were approximately eight downtown businesses represented at a recent seminar held at the conference room at the Ag Center.

Here is a recap of the programs available.

BE EDA Commercial Building Exterior Improvement Grant Program

This grant program will fund up to 50 percent of a project up to $10,000. It covers such things as windows, doors, tuck pointing, signage, entryways, and yes, awnings. It is a grant and does not need to be paid back.

BE EDA Revolving Loan Fund

This is a loan of between $5,000 to $100,000 and is intended to provide capital for new and existing business expansion. It covers such things as inventory, machinery building and land purchase. It is a loan that is repaid at 4 to 5 percent interest over a period of time up to 10 years.

BE EDA Forgivable Loan/Grant Program

This program is used as an incentive to help with the sale/purchase of an existing business. It is a 2 to 1 match of the purchaser’s personal investment toward the acquisition of a business, up to $20,000. While it is a loan at a fixed interest rate, it is forgiven over five years and thus becomes a grant.

BE EDA Construction Mitigation Loan Program

This one is tailored to help businesses with immediate cash flow needs created by loss of traffic and revenue during the street and utility reconstruction. It can help with rent/lease/ mortgage and utility payments. It is a loan up to $5,000 and is repaid at $100 per month at 0 percent interest.

BE EDA Utility Revolving Loan Fund

Local businesses which are in need of new and/or additional utility services, such as electric, water and sanitary sewer lines, can qualify for a loan of up to $15,000.

The loan is at a 4 to 5 percent interest rate and can be paid back up to 10 years.

Faribault County Commercial Rehabilitation Revolving Loan Program

The county also has a program to help businesses upgrade the appearance of commercial properties.

Anyone wishing more information on these or any other project funding opportunities is urged to contact Clawson at the FCDC office, located at the Ag Center in Blue Earth. Or call (507) 526-2151.