RED loans offer a financing option for small businesses

Published on Tue, Nov 22, 2011 by Jeremy Schwartz

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Many small businesses in Blaine are facing tough financial times, and the city’s Rural Economic Development (RED) loans offer small businesses a low-cost way to expand.

Since the RED loans program’s inception in 2000, the city of Blaine has lent approximately $717,000 in low-cost loans to numerous small businesses in the city, Blaine finance director Jeff Lazenby said. Businesses can borrow as much as $50,000 and have five years to pay back the loans, which are financed through Sterling Savings Bank.

The loans have nearly a 100 percent payback rate, and Lazenby said eight of 10 loan applications have been accepted since he started with the city in January 2009. A six-member loan approval committee, made up of representatives from the city, local businesses and Sterling Savings Bank, uses a business owner’s business plan, finances and other factors to decide whether to approve or decline the application.

Businesses must describe how they plan to achieve one more of the following goals in their RED loan application:

• Achieve job creation or retention

• Add or upgrade nonelectrical infrastructure

• Add or upgrade health and safety facilities

• Accomplish energy and water use efficiency improvements.

• Add or upgrade emergency services.

Businesses may not use the RED loans to restructure their debt, Lazenby said. Loans are monitored through Sterling Savings Bank, which notifies the city if a business is behind on its loan payments.

For more on the RED loan program, visit the city of Blaine’s website at www.ci.blaine.wa.us or click here for a RED information packet.