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County approves two major projects


A joint meeting of county council and commissioners held Monday morning resulted in approval of two major projects from Major Moves funds.

    One project was the creation of a Major Moves revolving loan fund in conjunction with the LaGrange County Economic Development Corporation. This fund will initially be funded with an investment of $1.5 million from the Major Moves Fund. This fund is designed to help small businesses continue to develop and expand.

    The approval was unanimous among the nine members of the council and commissioners present. Steve McKowen was absent. Commissioners George Bachman, Garry Heller and Larry Miller, along with councilmen Fred Brown, Ryan Riegsecker, Michael Strawser, Charles Ashcraft, Jac Price, and Peter Cook approved the project.

    Terms of the project proposed and adopted are that no more than $200,000 or 10 percent of the loan fund balance be invested in any one project with a minimum loan of $15,000. Other terms are that a maximum of $15,000 for each job created be loaned; that loans be no more than 33 percent of total project financing; interest will be charged at Wall Street Journal prime, fixed; maximum terms will be based on the project, but not to exceed 10 years; and all projects will receive counseling services from Northeast Indiana Small Business Development Corporation.

    The loan review committee will be comprised of two representatives from government and five others. Larry Miller was appointed to represent the county commissioners and Ryan Riegsecker to represent the county council. Other representatives will include a commercial banking lender, CPA/financial analyst, LCEDC board member, NE Indiana Small Business Development Center representative, and a major officer of a local business or industry.

    The program should be up and running by the end of August. Members of the committee that put together the program were Larry Miller, Charles Ashcraft, Fred Brown and Ryan Riegsecker. Keith Gillenwater of the LCEDC acted as facilitator for the group.

    Brown praised Gillenwater for his efforts and service to the committee. “Keith really went the extra mile for us on this project,” Brown stated.

    The second major project was the approval of up to a $1.3 million loan to the Michiana Event Center (MEC). The money will be used to purchase the building and 64 acres surrounding the MEC and will be backed by a mortgage and personal guarantee.

    The MEC package will bear interest and be repaid within five years.

    The joint meeting attendees also agreed that the Major Moves committee of Ryan Riegsecker, Steve McKowen and Garry Heller should meet with Keith Gillenwater as a facilitator to develop guidelines and criteria for major projects with Major Moves funds.

    This new concept will be used to address larger requests that are not a possibility for the small business development fund.