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Published: 6/23/2010

Local banks offer tornado relief programs; low-interest loans available

BY JULIE M. McKINNON
BLADE STAFF WRITER

To help storm victims in Wood, Ottawa, Fulton, and Lucas counties, GenoaBank is offering two emergency financial relief programs in partnership with the Ohio treasurer's office.

Three other banks - Huntington National Bank, Farmers and Merchants State Bank, and First Federal Bank of the Midwest - also are offering one of the programs, called Renew Ohio. That state program will give affected business owners, farmers, and home-

owners 3 percentage-point interest-rate reductions on new or existing loans over a two-year period.

GenoaBank also is offering Rebuild Ohio, a state program to assist affected homeowners wanting to rebuild with a 3 percentage-point interest rate reduction on construction loans for up to a year. That essentially will give them a 2.5 percent interest rate, said Martin P. Sutter, the bank's president.

The state is providing $20 million for the two programs, and funding should be completed by Oct. 31, according to the Ohio Treasury's Department of Economic Development.

GenoaBank decided to become involved with both programs so it could help local residents from the three counties affected by the deadly and devastating June 5 tornadoes, Mr. Sutter said.

"We know so many of these people," Mr. Sutter said. "They're community members. We know them. They're family, and friends, and neighbors." A GenoaBank employee's home was among those destroyed, he said. He added: "In my mind, this is what a community bank does."

An estimated 45 buildings were destroyed by high winds and tornadoes overnight June 5 and 6, and 119 others were damaged.

Renew Ohio will allow businesses and farmers to transition into GrowNOW, which offers interest rate reduction assistance or other programs, said Simone Wilkinson, treasury spokesman. "It's not necessarily ending for people in two years, especially if they need more help," she said.

The department is in discussions with a couple of other banks about offering the emergency financial relief programs, Ms. Wilkinson said last week.

With Renew Ohio - the program offered at all four banks - business owners, farmers, and homeowners:

•Must have suffered severe damage from the tornadoes and severe weather.

•Have to obtain a loan from an eligible bank or apply for a reduction on a current loan.

•Must comply with monitoring requests required by the state treasurer.

•Can receive a loan of up to $400,000.

•Have to apply by Sept. 30.

At GenoaBank, Rebuild Ohio applications also are due Sept. 30, and the maximum also is $400,000. Homeowners who apply must obtain a construction loan to finance the cost of rebuilding, and they also must agree to comply with state-required monitoring.



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