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Project seeks loan guarantee

February 16, 2012
Jenn Brookens - Staff Writer , Fairmont Sentinel

TRIMONT - After spending several months researching potential funding, the Trimont Town Center committee is seeking a loan guarantee from USDA Rural Development.

The Town Center project involves building a facility on the south side of Trimont along Highway 4. It would be anchored by a grocery store, fuel station and liquor store, and would house three rental bays for potential businesses.

"Think of a satellite office that would offer workspace for employees from a variety of companies," said Town Center committee member Cliff Vrieze, describing the collaborative work spaces. "Employees who currently telecommute or work from home could use this as their office. At this time, no concrete arrangements have been made, but we think this is an interesting concept and foresee an increasing need for this type of space."

The operations would be owned and operated by Town Center Inc., a 501(c)3 charitable, non-profit organization.

While some businesses and entrepreneurs have expressed an interest in renting a bay, no commitments have been made. However, verbal and written commitments have been made with SuperValu as the grocery store supplier. Discussions also have occurred with SuperValu's preferred fuel vendor, which is interested in working with the project.

"For the past year, we'd been pursuing different funding options, and as we did, we'd hear of other opportunities that might be a better fit," said Kristie Swenson, spokeswoman for the Town Center committee. "The funding is the biggest piece right now, and we looked into different grants from the USDA, and programs for rural development. As we'd get further into it, then we'd find another program that seemed like a better fit ... A lot of research has gone into identifying what would work for us and what would have the highest likelihood of being approved."

The Town Center committee has visited individuals and organizations at the local, area, state and national level. One of those organizations is the Prairieland Economic Development Corporation, a non-profit organization with bases in Slayton and Sioux Falls.

"An individual within USDA Rural Development suggested we contact Prairieland, as they are familiar with the USDA Rural Development programs and applying for non-profit status," said Joel Rabbe, Town Center committee member. "Prairieland is guiding us through both the [business & industrial] loan and 501(c)3 application processes to help make our applications as strong as possible ... Once the applications for the 501(c)3 and the B&I loan are submitted, we may have to wait months before receiving a response. If the status is granted and the project is approved for a B&I loan, breaking ground in 2012 is a possibility."

The loan would be financed through local funding sources, with the USDA Rural Development guaranteeing a maximum of 80 percent, reducing the risk to financiers.

The committee is anticipating that the guaranteed loan will be approved and that the non-profit status will be granted by the IRS. Once that happens, things will start to move quickly.

In the meantime, the committee is working hard with Prairieland personnel to fine tune its application.

"We have a solid case, and we need to convey that in our applications," Swenson said.

She stressed that committee members are interested in the public input.

"If people have questions, they can feel free to contact us," she said. "We are open to that. We've had organizations express interest in our office spaces, but we want to know what would be the best services that our town needs, and we'd like to know what the community thinks those are."

Those with questions or comments can contact Swenson by e-mail:



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