Stillwater News Press

March 18, 2014

Payne County considers economic development loan program

By Michelle Charles
Stillwater News Press

STILLWATER, Okla. — At Monday’s meeting of the Payne County Economic Development Authority, Chairman Chris Reding said he’d like to see the authority encourage business growth in Payne County by making small, low interest loans to new or growing companies.

The companies would repay the loans over time, replenishing the fund and enabling the county to help another business.

Reding said he thought it would be a better way to utilize money the county has set aside for economic development.

“Right now we have about $250,000 sitting in our account,” he said. “Basically just sitting in our account.

“I would like in this committee to create a mechanism to use that in a responsible way to spur actual economic development in Payne County.”

Reding said the authority’s current guidelines are too broad.

“As far as the bylaws go we can pretty much do anything, which is kind of scary,” he said.

Commissioner Zach Cavett said as a business owner, he’s always questioned the fairness of some businesses getting help while others don’t. He also said he didn’t want the county to get in the banking business.

Reding said a banker had recently told him it’s still hard for a lot of people to get financing.

“He told me the only people they’re loaning money to are people who don’t need it,” he said.

Cavett said he thinks that if a bank turns you down that probably means you don’t have a good business plan.

He and Commissioner Jim Arthur said it might be better to give the grants to communities to encourage business development as they choose.

They asked to see examples of other programs before making any decisions.