Federal funding to support existing, future business owners in Aroostook, Washington counties

Posted June 19, 2012, at 5:31 p.m.

CARIBOU, Maine — Current or aspiring business owners in Aroostook and Washington counties now have access to federal funding offered through a local economic development firm.

Officials at the Northern Maine Development Commission announced Tuesday that they had received a $1.2 million loan from the U.S. Small Business Administration Microloan Program.

Portions of the funding will be loaned to qualified applicants in small amounts over a six-year period.

Duane Walton, director of business finance at NMDC, said Tuesday that people looking to start a new business or expand an existing one could qualify for the funding, which can’t exceed $50,000. The maximum period of the loan is six years, and the average microloan nationally is $13,000.

The loans also can be used for working capital or the purchase of inventory, supplies, furniture, fixtures, machinery and-or equipment.

Walton said the $1.2 million loan is significant, as it is the most the SBA will award.

He said he expects half of the loans to be in Washington County and the other half in Aroostook.

“We asked for the extra money for Washington County and we still have money to loan to businesses in Aroostook County like we always have,” he said.

Walton said he believes there will be more economic development in the region, which will mean an increase in need.

Over the years, NMDC has made 224 microloans totaling $4 million. That funding has created 281 jobs and retained 639 jobs.

It is the prior success with the program, which Walton said allowed the SBA to approve the application in just about a month, a quick turnaround period for the federal government.

Another benefit of the program is each applicant will be eligible for and will be contacted concerning technical assistance provided free of charge by NMDC’s Business Finance Department. Technical assistance is available concerning all aspects of the business and business development. A representative will provide ongoing assistance to help grow the venture and achieve the short-term and long-term goals of the business.

“We work very closely with the applicant after the fact to make sure they are successful,” Walton said.

For information on the microloan program, contact the Business Finance Division at NMDC at 498-8736 or visit www.nmdc.org.

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