For Immediate Release: October 2, 2014

Ballot question authorizes bond to fund Regional Economic Development Revolving Loan and Commercial Loan Insurance Programs

(WISCASSET, ME – OCTOBER 2, 2014) — When Maine voters head to the polls on November 4, by voting YES on Question 3 they will have the opportunity to extend a program that has supported small businesses and created local jobs across the state for 20 years.

Small businesses– from Tilton’s Market in Buckfield to Seafax in Cumberland to Molnlycke in Wiscasset to Three Rivers Whitewater in The Forks – have benefitted from the financing available through the Regional Economic Development Revolving Loan Program (REDRLP) and the companion Commercial Loan Insurance (CLI) program. Since REDRLP was created by the Legislature in 1993, 772 revolving loans of $16.2 million have been disbursed, helping to create and retain about 10,500 jobs in total.  

Voting YES on Question 3 will authorize a bond that will continue funding these successful programs and provide $8,000,000 in funds to make flexible loans to small businesses to create jobs, revitalize downtowns, and strengthen the rural economy and also provide $4,000,000 in funds to insure portions of loans to small businesses to spur investment and innovation.

“Small businesses sustain Maine’s rural economy, providing jobs for our family, friends and neighbors,” said Ron Phillips, President and CEO of CEI, one of the community development organizations making the loans. “One of the barriers for small business ownership and growth in our state has been a lack of access to flexible capital, the kind of capital that works closely with conventional bank funds in filling gaps and helping a business start or expand.”

The program was created during Governor McKernan’s administration, and carried through under every subsequent administration. Bank representatives such as Jeanne Hulitt, president of Northeast Bank and former head of the SBA, and Yellow Light Breen, Senior Vice President at Bangor Savings, each have lent their support to the program.

REDRLP is managed by the Finance Authority of Maine (FAME) which grants the authorized pool of funds to local economic development agencies, including CEI, with the requirement that they establish ongoing revolving loan funds to support the program. Borrowers who meet program eligibility criteria are able to access the funds. Commercial Loan Insurance (CLI) enables FAME to issue insurance to financial institutions that are making loans to business borrowers.

For example CEI facilitated a REDRLP loan to Seafax, the leading provider of business information for the food industry in North America in 2001 so that owners could purchase a business in turmoil, turn it around and keep 55 jobs in Maine. Since then the company has tripled in revenue, grown its staff to 85 and paid off its loan in full.

The program has also been instrumental in resurrecting small community centers like Tilton’s Market in Buckfield which closed after 75 years in business. Through a loan made by Community Concepts, a new owner was able to purchase and remodel the store, re-opening what residents called the “heart” of the town.

Three Rivers Whitewater benefitted from the CLI program, which provided insurance on the business’ two mortgages, enabling them to get the loan they needed to grow over the past 17 years.

Multiple, diverse organizations focused on fueling the state’s growth support these two programs. “Maine needs strategic investment in small business to create jobs in communities across the state,” said GrowSmart Maine Executive Director Nancy Smith. “With strong demand for investments and historic low interest rates, the timing is right for these proposals.”

Members of the Maine Real Estate & Development Association (MEREDA) also support passage of the measure. “By voting yes on Question 3 Maine will continue to fund a crucial program that gives small business owners access to monies to invest in developing their businesses. This access to capital is an important tool if we are to boost business in our state,” stated Michael O’Reilly, President of MEREDA.

To learn more about how voting Yes on Question 3 will help create new jobs in your community and grow small business, like us on Facebook or visit our website.
Media Contact:

Christen Graham on behalf of Mainers for Small Business
207-838-0082 or cgraham@givingstrong.com