MONITCELLO, NY — Before departing to celebrate Thanksgiving with family, Sullivan County legislators agreed to transfer the administration of revolving loan funds from the Sullivan County …
MONITCELLO, NY — Before departing to celebrate Thanksgiving with family, Sullivan County legislators agreed to transfer the administration of revolving loan funds from the Sullivan County Planning and Community Development Division to the Sullivan County Industrial Development (IDA).
These loans go back as far as 1997, offering reasonable interest rates to applicants shut out of traditional lending avenues, such as banks. The loans are provided by the U.S. Department of Agriculture (USDA) and U.S. Department of Housing and Urban Development (HUD) to support local businesses and spur economic growth.
During the November 22 legislative meeting, Heather Brown, the county’s planning commissioner, explained why it’s better for the IDA to administer the loans than have her office do it.
“It came to our attention that a lot of the businesses that were applying for these loans were also going through programs that are currently available with the IDA or the Sullivan County Funding Corporation,” she said. “They were getting loans from them as well.”
She added that “it would be nice to have one stop where someone could talk to them, kind of counsel them on ‘This is what we have available, this is how we can package it for you, this is how we can help your business survive.’ At the end of the day, I just want to make sure this funding isn’t sitting in a fund right now—which a lot of it is and isn’t getting out into the community. I want to see the funding in a location where there is the human infrastructure to advertise it. Right now it’s not doing anything. This seems like a good solution to our current issue.”
Legislators Joe Perrello, Alan Sorensen and Luis Alvarez seemed more keen to allow the shift after hearing Brown’s explanation. Perrello said the IDA is “more concentrated and has professionals who can do that,” referring to the administrative work.
Transferring administration to the IDA might help enable funding to reach more people, but it also moves oversight from the county to a corporation.
Resident Ken Walter, a frequent public commenter, called the decision “totally wrong.” The IDA is a “big corporate welfare house,” he said. He asked how much money John Keifer, the IDA’s chief executive officer, would make on the closing of this contract.
Brown said the funds can be loaned outside of the program’s original criteria, and will all go directly into the agreement between the county and the IDA when the transfer happens. “So the program would continue to function the same way it functions right now,” she said. “It just wouldn’t be planning staff administration. It would be the staff of the funding corporation for the IDA doing the administration.”
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