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County considers grant money for small businesses

Posted on Thursday, April 18, 2013 at 2:36 pm

The Louisa County Board of Supervisors is considering a small business grant program  that could offer incentives to new and existing small businesses in the county.

“When we were looking at other incentive packages for other industries, it was the consensus that we need to look out for the smaller businesses and existing businesses,” Andy Wade, county economic development director, said.

In March 2012, an incentive plan for high-volume retail and restaurants was discussed by supervisors, which resulted in small business claiming it was unfair to leave them out of the picture.

Afterward, a committee was established comprised of several local business leaders, who assisted Wade in developing the program to help existing small businesses expand or new businesses get off the ground.

Wade presented the results of the committee’s work at the board’s Monday night meeting.

The economic development director recommends that $150,000 be earmarked for first-year funding requests. He said that grant funding would be subject to the availability of funds at any given time and appropriation by the supervisors.

The idea is to offer small grants, around $5,000 to $10,000 each, which would be leveraged by the business’ own credit lines or other capital.

“The primary focus would be existing businesses in the county,” Wade said.

Approximately 90 percent of new capital investment and job creation is derived by existing businesses. Wade said it makes sense to help those companies by leveraging their capital.

According to Patrick Hanley,  who owns Panamint Farm LLC in Louisa and served on the committee with Wade, the group met on several occasions to discuss the features of the program, how it would be administered and developed criteria to stimulate businesses to grow.

“We would have a rigorous vetting process,” Hanley said.  “The primary purpose would be to help the business get started, or help existing business to grow. Small businesses are having a difficult  time borrowing money.  This would be the place they could go to and get a little capital.”

Read The Central Virginian’s April 18 issue for the rest of the story