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Published: Saturday, 6/23/2007

Low-interest loans let residents of Lucas County buy local artwork

BY IGNAZIO MESSINA
BLADE STAFF WRITER
Marcia Helman studies paintings by Angelo Bullano at the Visual Art Show at One Government Center. Marcia Helman studies paintings by Angelo Bullano at the Visual Art Show at One Government Center.
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Lucas County residents will be able to apply for low-interest loans to buy local artwork though a county-funded program, Commissioner Ben Konop, announced yesterday.

"This program is to give all citizens an opportunity to purchase and enjoy art, and it makes it more affordable," Mr. Konop said.

"I think the connection between economic development and art has been fairly well documented, and a vibrant art community leads to economic development for the whole community."

Lucas County residents who qualify for the program, administered by KeyBank, can receive a loan at 1 percent interest starting at $500, up to a maximum of $2,500 to purchase a piece of local artwork.

The program has a cap of $25,000 in loans, Mr. Konop said.

The county has agreed to invest $250,000 in a one-year certificate of deposit with KeyBank. The interest rate on the investment will be only 1 percent rather than the typical 4 to 4.5 percent, Mr. Konop said.

At a luncheon during the opening of the Visual Art Show, artist Terry A. Burton discusses the need to fund public art, such as murals. At a luncheon during the opening of the Visual Art Show, artist Terry A. Burton discusses the need to fund public art, such as murals.
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In return, the bank will administer the low-interest artwork loan program.

According to the Lucas County Treasurer's Office, if the county invested $250,000 in a certificate of deposit at 4.157 percent interest, the return would be $10,392 for the year.

At 1 percent, the county will instead get $2,511.

So, essentially, the cost to taxpayers is $7,881.

The county's share of sales tax from the purchase of $25,000 in local artwork will be about $300.

Mr. Konop said the new program is modeled after the Own Art program in Manchester, England.

"There is a cost to taxpayers, but it's, I would say, a good value, and it's economic development and it also helps small-business development," he said.

"The main beneficiary is the working people of Lucas County, who now have a more affordable opportunity to purchase art."

Mr. Konop said KeyBank "is on the hook if people don't pay back."

He said there would be between 30 to 40 loans issued from the first round of funding.

County Treasurer Wade Kapszukiewicz said he is always looking for ways to use the "financial resources of the treasurer's office to move the county forward."

While final details of the Art Assist program are being arranged, Lucas County residents interested in applying should contact the commissioners' office.



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