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Ohio lending program touted in visit to area

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Ohio Treasurer Richard Cordray

The Blade/Lori King
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When Sandy Milligan wanted to expand her Bowling Green business last year, she took her plan to her banker and, to her great surprise, got a helping hand from a long-neglected state program.

It was cheap money, she said of the GrowNOW program, which allowed her to save 3 percentage points on the $300,000 loan she took out for a new warehousing facility. In January, Ms. Milligan fulfilled her commitment to receive the discounted debt: she hired 11 employees.

Ohio Treasurer Richard Cordray spoke to Ms. Milligan and about four dozen other small-business owners yesterday at the Holiday Inn French Quarter in Perrysburg, urging them to take advantage of the state-sponsored program for small businesses.

It s a simple program, and we try to keep it simple, Mr. Cordray said.

The program, which has been in state law since 1983, invests the state s reserves with banks that do business in Ohio and agrees to trade up to 3 percentage points of its interest income to subsidize loans to qualifying small businesses who promise to create jobs.

Mr. Cordray has been criss-crossing the state to drum up business through the National Federation of Independent Business.

It s really kind of a Johnny Appleseed approach, the treasurer said, noting that the program paid out $70 million in loan subsidies in 2007, compared with $18 million in 2006. The program has up to $300 million in loan subsidies a year, he said.

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