Montgomery County Executive Isiah Leggett joined this morning with members of the Montgomery County Council, Department of Economic Development Director (DED) Steve Silverman and other local officials and representatives to announce that, through a strategic repositioning of a commitment made to Montgomery County as a result of Leggett’s October 2008 business development mission to Korea, the County has made a critical two million dollar infusion in to the County’s Small Business Revolving Loan Fund (SBRLF). The $2 million infusion brings the SBRLF balance to over $2.4 million for FY11.
“The infusion of $2 million into the County’s Small Business Revolving Loan Fund is significant and will bring immediate, direct assistance to our local small business community in this still difficult economic climate,” said Leggett. “Through a repositioning of a commitment from Chungbuk Province to Montgomery County, we are able to increase our support of small businesses throughout the County and do so in a way that illustrates our ability to work together in a strategic manner to bolster the local economy and protect and create jobs.”
“Small businesses are the lifeblood of our local economy and they need our help,” said Montgomery County Councilmember Roger Berliner, who represents the Bethesda/Potomac/Chevy Chase area. “This new initiative provides that help and I commend the County Executive and his administration for being proactive in responding to the needs of our small business community.”
Small businesses are the backbone of the local economy. Montgomery County is home to over 25,000 business establishments with 50 or fewer employees, including advanced technology company XFI of Bethesda, where today’s event was held.
The County’s SBRLF was established in 2002 as part of the Montgomery County Economic Development Fund Grant and Loan Program (EDF) and is managed by the Department of Economic Development (DED). Since inception, more than $1.883 million in SBRLF loans have been distributed to 30 county businesses, many of which are minority owned.
Loans to County companies from the SBRLF have made a direct, positive impact. Addis Ababa, an authentic Ethiopian restaurant in downtown Silver Spring, received a $60,000 loan that it will use to enclose its rooftop helping expand seating capacity, enhance ambience and support increased business.
Panas, LLC, a start-up food company based in Rockville specializes in gourmet empanada, received a $40,000 loan in 2007. Despite the difficult economic environment, they saw 2009 sales grew by 53 percent over 2008. This year, they will launch their empanada product line with two major, high-end grocery chains at numerous locations throughout the country. In early 2009, Interior Accents, Etc., used their $40,000 loan to support their successful furniture and distinctive home accessories store in Rockville.
“We need to do more of everything to assist our business community during these bleak economic times,” said Silverman. “This creative repositioning of existing funds by the County Executive and Council to better meet the current needs of our small business community is exactly the type of proactive, pro-business decision making needed now more than ever, and our Department will continue to advocate for and help implement similar, forward thinking policies for as long as needed to support job retention and growth throughout Montgomery County.”
To date, total funds distributed via the County’s Economic Development Fund programs have resulted in over $90 million in real and personal property tax revenue to the County and have leveraged over $43 million in state funding and more than $1 billion in private capital investment.
Programs like the SBRLF work in tandem with other existing and new initiatives to support the County’s local business community, including: introduction of legislation to create a local biotech tax credit and recent signing of a memorandum of understanding between Montgomery County and John Hopkins University, both directives of the County’s new biosciences strategy recommending additional support for the life sciences community; the new Stimulus Opportunity System (SOS), a free, online database created by DED providing 52,000-plus federal contract and grant opportunities; existing small business mentoring, workforce training programs and agri-business support and advocacy; and a soon to be released strategy from the County’s Green Economy Task Force to further support and grow this evolving business sector.
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