Regional Development Alliance Executive Director Connie Chadwick discussed various programs the company offers to small businesses at the Rigby Chamber of Commerce meeting Sept. 12.
The Alliance covers seven counties in eastern Idaho that include Jefferson, Clark, Custer, Bonneville, Bingham, Madison and Bannock. Chadwick said the Alliance was formed in 1997 to manage the economic development portion of the Idaho National Laboratory Settlement Fund.
While managing the INL Settlement Fund, the State provided the Alliance with more than $20 million during the term of the agreement.
Now the funds they manage are utilized primarily to finance for-profit companies.
Chadwick said the Regional Development Alliance is comprised of 15 board members representing each of the seven counties served. Commissioner Scott Hancock represents Jefferson County.
She said they focus predominantly on creating new jobs, encouraging new business while also retaining existing businesses in the region. In doing so, the company offers multiple programs to assure businesses continue to flourish.
The company offers four different programs, the Regional Investment Fund, the Bonneville County Fund, Microloans and Rural Retail Loans.
“The RDA continues to provide an invaluable service to southeast Idaho with over $4.3 million in cash available for lending,” she said.
Chadwick said the Regional Investment Fund was the first program the Alliance designed and is now the largest. It was designed to finance companies that are expanding in east Idaho that can be used to fund operating capital, real property, equipment, inventory, start-up costs or other appropriate costs.
She said they prefer to lend a maximum of $500,000 that are generally in the form of loans. Rates and terms depend on the risk of the investment but typically have a margin of prime from 3 to 4 percent.
The Bonneville County Revolving Loan Fund is strictly designed and dedicated to businesses in Bonneville County. It is a combination of federal (Economic Development Administration) and local (Idaho Falls and Bonneville County) funds.
The maximum loan amount is $300,000 and the funds must be available before applying, plus the business must have the desire to hire former or dislocated workers from INL.
“They must have a turn-down letter from a traditional commercial lender,” she said.
The Microloan Fund is designed to assist entrepreneurs who need a small loan and desire a “rapid response to a new business opportunity.”
Chadwick indicated that these loans are not intended to be a long-term loan but are established based on the size of the request. She said the maximum loan amount is $50,000 and they are limited to one round of financing.
“We’ve designed our Microloan with the explicit intent of increased speed to market for growing companies,” she said.
Finally, the Rural Retail program is designed to benefit rural communities that don’t normally have a broad range of opportunities for economic development. The loan however is limited to Terreton, Mud Lake, Arco, Downey, Lava Hot Springs, Salmon, Aberdeen, Clayton and Stanley.
“The proposed business must be a benefit to the community,” she said. “We will not fund one retail business that will directly cause another to fail.”
In addition to its loaning programs the RDA offers business support organizations. They include Small Business Development Centers, Service Corp of Retired Executives and Idaho Innovation Center.
The Small Business Development Center offers direct assistance to small business throughout Idaho. The Corp of Retired Executives offers assistance in all areas of business from those who have done it before. Lastly, the Idaho Innovation Center assists entrepreneur’s confidence to aggressively start and grow their business.
Overall Chadwick said the goal of the support organizations is to support city and county organizations in reaching the economic development goals of the communities they serve.
She said to-date, companies financed by the Alliance have created over 6,000 jobs. In that time they have received $2 billion in requests and have committed $26 million to business creation opportunities.