Loan program designed to help small businesses

By David Skolnick

Thirty Valley businesses borrowed money through the program.

YOUNGSTOWN — In a struggling economy, it’s often difficult for small businesses to have the financial resources to grow or even stay in business, said Ohio Treasurer Richard Cordray.

That’s why Cordray is promoting his office’s GrowNOW small business development program.

The program’s been available to small businesses for 25 years but became essentially dormant during the early part of the decade because of low interest rates.

The program offers loans of up to $400,000 at 3 percent below the prime rate for two years to small businesses that create or save jobs.

In the past year or so, 30 businesses in Mahoning, Trumbull and Columbiana counties have borrowed $7.2 million in total through the program.

“We’ve been focused in the Mahoning Valley and northeast Ohio,” Cordray said in a Friday interview with The Vindicator. “It’s a tremendous economic tool.”

Cordray was in Youngstown to discuss the importance of financial education for women, and his office’s personal finance initiatives.

Cordray said growing small businesses is essential to the state’s economy. Two out of every three new jobs are created by small businesses, he said.

“This is exactly what the Valley is looking for,” Cordray said. “It’s a great fit for this area.”

The program has provided more than $130 million in loans to businesses statewide.

After a bank approves a loan, the small business applies for a GrowNOW linked deposit from the state treasury. The business must show that the loan is helping them create or retain jobs. If the loan is approved, the treasury invests in a certificate of deposit from the bank and accepts a reduced interest rate provided the bank passes that reduction to the small business, Cordray said.

Eligible businesses must have fewer than 150 employees. Applications are available at — the program’s Web site.

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