FEDA offers ‘micro loans’

FAIRMONT — The Fairmont Economic Development Authority is looking for commercial businesses that want to borrow money to spruce up their buildings.

“They can borrow up to $10,000 at 3 percent. You’re not going to find that at the bank,” Linsey Preuss, Fairmont economic development director, told FEDA members Monday. And the loan amortization over seven years will result in “a small payment” each month.

FEDA’s micro loan program can be tapped for signage, storefronts, code work, windows, doors, awnings, painting, sandblasting, thresholds and entryways, minor building renovation and machinery and equipment.

“We can do five (micro loans) a year, and we haven’t done any yet this year,” Preuss said. “It’s super easy to apply — only a two-page application.”

There is no mortgage attachment to the non-secured loan, and each applicant is processed on a case-by-case basis. The loan check will be written when proof of work is submitted.

FEDA’s other loan programs, including economic development, reportable and non-reportable, are in excellent shape, with all 19 borrowers current on payments. Aspire Salon recently paid off its $20,000 loan from 2007 on time.

In other business, Preuss related the difficulty of finding lead-certified contractors to do the work on recipients of the state’s small cities grant to fix up single-family houses.

“We have 15 jobs that are about $25,000 for each job,” she said.

The grant requires any contractor working on the project to be certified in lead removal.

FEDA member Tom Hawkins suggested subsidizing the cost for contractors to obtain the certification.

In another matter, Preuss asked for and received authorization to spend $300 per month for the Golden Shovel Agency to update FEDA’s website, www.fedamn.com. The Little Falls firm, which specializes in economic development communications across the country, designed the website. Preuss originally planned on handling the updates herself but said the technology involved was “totally not up my alley.”

Golden Shovel would also provide analytical data about who is looking at the site and where they are located, as well as keeping all the information fresh and current to optimize the site.

Preuss informed FEDA members that she soon will attend an international economic development conference in Toronto, where she will take the final course to be a certified economic developer, of which there are only seven in the state.