Newspaper article The Florida Times Union

More Companies Taking Advantage of Loans to Help Beef Up Business

Newspaper article The Florida Times Union

More Companies Taking Advantage of Loans to Help Beef Up Business

Article excerpt

A taxpayer-financed loan program to help local companies expand is drawing the attention of an increasing number of small businesses in Clay County.

Only two companies -- a catering firm and a marine construction company -- originally applied for about $300,000 in low-interest loans from the federally funded program, which comes through Florida's Department of Community Affairs.

Now, quite a few more business owners are trying to tap into the pool of money available to help create more jobs.

"We've had seven or eight inquiries that seem as though they may materialize as qualified applicants," said Barbara Jordan, a consultant who is preparing an economic development grant application for the County Commission.

The sudden upswing in interest for the loans, Jordan said, was sparked by a recent story about the program in the County Line.

"After the County Line article came out we got a number of calls from other businesses," she said. "Now, we have an opportunity to apply for the full $750,000 [maximum available]."

In addition to the marine construction and catering firms, other prospective applicants include an assisted living facility, a florist business, an engraving shop and a swimming pool construction company.

To qualify, businesses must prove they have a solid financial background and are willing to "commit some of their own money, too," Jordan said. She said applicants generally put up a dollar for every dollar they borrow.

If all applicants receive loans, about 40 new low- to moderate-income jobs for high school graduates would be created, Jordan said.

Danita Andrews, administrative assistant with the Clay County Development Authority, said the loans will help the county achieve two major goals.

More local jobs would be created, thus putting fewer motorists on the road to jobs in Duval or other adjacent counties. …

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