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Published: Wednesday, 5/14/2008

Area businesses seeding growth with low-rate loans from state

BY TED FACKLER
BLADE BUSINESS WRITER
Claudia Fellman tends to plants at Gedert's Greenhouse, a program participant, which plans to hire five employees. Claudia Fellman tends to plants at Gedert's Greenhouse, a program participant, which plans to hire five employees.
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Taylor Gedert, vice president of Gedert's Greenhouse Inc. in Monclova Township, was concerned about how rising energy and transportation costs would affect his business.

At the behest of his banker, he applied for the state-sponsored GrowNOW program. Two months later, the company received a low-interest loan of $250,000 at 3.5 percent. He plans to hire five employees and expand operations.

"It was great timing for us with costs going up," said Mr. Gedert.

The 25-year-old GrowNOW helps small businesses statewide with a 3 percentage point reduction on loan interest. The program granted $30.3 million in reduced rate loans last month, a record, the state said.

A business applies for a loan at a bank, and if approved, can apply for the state help, getting an answer within 48 hours. The state will cover up to $400,000 of loans in a 3 percentage-point reduction. For every $50,000 granted, businesses are expected to hire, or retain, one employee.

Douglas Tyson moves racks of pots at Gedert's Greenhouse, a program participant, which plans to hire five employees. Douglas Tyson moves racks of pots at Gedert's Greenhouse, a program participant, which plans to hire five employees.
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In total, 143 businesses were helped last month, promising to create or retain 1,327 jobs.

In April, four businesses in Lucas County participated, three in Wood County, two in Fulton County, and three in Ottawa County. Overall, 34 businesses were helped in northwest Ohio counties.

"If you're looking to grow and create jobs, we have low-cost money for you," said Richard Cordray, the state treasurer, whose office oversees the program.

The state has up to $600 million available for the program, but only $130 million is being used.

To be eligible, small businesses must be for profit and have fewer than 150 employees. The program lasts two years. Fewer than 1 percent of applicants are denied.

Tim Harris, area president for First Federal Bank in Bowling Green, endorses the program, but said it doesn't get as much use as it should.

George W. Nicely, owner of N&R&G Recycling Inc. in Napoleon, used the program last month for a $250,000 loan to expand his recycling facility.

The money saved will be used to offset the high prices of worker compensation coverage, to buy new equipment, and hire two more employees, he said.

"The way it looks we'll have higher revenues than we had last year," he said.

Loadmaster Trailer Co., in Port Clinton, which sells boat trailers, used the program to save money and retain its work force.

The owners were excited about the program, said manager Megan Straw. The loan amount was not disclosed.

Contact Ted Fackler at:

tfackler@theblade.com

or 419-724-6199.



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