A major funding commitment from the U.S. Department of Agriculture will help expand the regional business financing efforts of Venture North Funding & Development.
James Turner, the Michigan Director for the USDA appointed by President Obama, recently presented a low-interest $279,595 loan to Venture North to expand its Intermediary Relending Program (IRP). Venture North will re-lend the funds to provide businesses across the 10-county region with financing for working capital, product line expansion, market diversification, machinery and equipment financing and related needs.
“We’re extremely grateful to the USDA for its ongoing support of Venture North’s business financing efforts, which continue to expand across Northern Michigan,” Venture North Executive Director Laura Galbraith said. “We’re fortunate to be able to provide our region’s business sector access to these federal resources to continue to grow Northern Michigan’s economy.”
The USDA funds are in the form of a one percent loan with a 30-year payback period. To receive the USDA funding, Venture North will make an additional commitment of $54,000 from existing funds. Venture North also receives support from other organizations including Consumers Energy.
This is the USDA’s second major loan to Venture North’s IRP program. The department also made a $400,000 contribution in late 2013 to help launch the program, which also received a $60,000 commitment from Venture North. Galbraith worked for almost two years to receive the necessary training to earn IRP certification from the USDA in order to administer the program.
“One of the reasons (USDA) Rural Development is so effective with our investments in the state is our ability to create partnerships, and we’re very proud to have this partnership with Venture North.” Turner said at the recent presentation, hosted by Cherry Capital Foods in Traverse City.
Since the Intermediary Relending Program’s launch in late 2013, it’s been among Venture North’s most-active lending programs. Twelve USDA loans totaling more than $530,000 have been distributed. Small businesses ranging from food producers, a local hops farm, a food truck, an auto service garage, an outdoor apparel and equipment retailer and others have been able to access USDA loans. As the loans are repaid, proceeds go into a revolving fund and are available to loan out to other companies in accordance with federal regulations.
The presentation event event highlighted one of Venture North’s USDA loan recipients – Sarah Landry Ryder of Kejara’s Bridge who received a $29,000 USDA loan to expand her line of locally made food products.
“(Venture North is) doing a terrific job in stimulating small businesses,” Turner added. “There are examples of small businesses in this room that are growing because of Venture North’s efforts, and our ability to support them.”
The USDA’s Intermediary Relending Program is among five business lending funds administered by Venture North. They range from small sub-micro loans up to $7,500 providing start-up and seed money, regional revolving loans up to $500,000 for larger companies, energy efficiency loans, working capital and other needs. Venture North’s business financing portfolio includes more than 50 area business loans totaling more than $3.1 million.