News Column

State tops list for small business funding

July 3, 2014

By Samuel Speciale, Charleston Daily Mail, W.Va.



July 03--West Virginia is a national leader in deploying funds to small businesses through a federal program created to spur private sector lending and investment, a release by the U.S. Treasury Department said Wednesday.

As part of the State Small Business Credit Initiative, West Virginia was given $13.2 million to stimulate economic growth around the state. Almost all of that money has been distributed to small business owners to encourage them to increase lending, expand operations and create new jobs.

The West Virginia Capital Access Network has been responsible for deploying the funds in partnership with eight different organizations located across the state. In total, $12.8 million was awarded, with $7 million going to seed- and early-stage businesses.

Part of the program requirements is to have at least one private matching dollar for every invested federal dollar. Because of this, an additional $69 million has been funneled to small businesses.

Michelle O'Connor, investment manager for the West Virginia Jobs Investment Trust Board, said 1,000 jobs have either been retained or created because of the program.

"I'm proud of it," she said. "It's not often we lead the country in something good."

In a press release, Sen. Joe Manchin applauded West Virginia's success in distributing 97 percent of the money, which is the second most in the country behind Idaho.

He said small businesses are "the engine of our economy," and that they create jobs necessary for economic development.

Through the program, the Capital Access Network has made 39 investments and provided loans to various businesses with hopes of sparking $130 million in new lending and investment over the next five years.

Businesses benefiting from the money include medical, biotechnology and automotive companies as well as restaurants, day cares and physical therapy groups.

The program, and others that encourage small business lending, was created in 2010 when President Barack Obama signed into law the Small Business Jobs Act.

Through the State Small Business Credit Initiative, the U.S. Treasury has distributed more than $1 billion in support to states. It is expected to give out $500 million more.

States do not have to pay the federal government back. Instead money recouped on the loans is recycled to support even more development.

Because the program has been successful and well-received by participating states, Obama proposed an additional $1.5 billion in his 2015 budget.

O'Connor said additional funds would be welcomed because there is such a high demand for assistance.

"The only downfall of the program is that the eight participants are full," she said, later adding that there is a wait list to receive funds.

No progress has been made on extending the federal program, but there have been talks of creating a state-sponsored version, O'Connor said.

House of Delegates Speaker Tim Miley made such a proposal, but it never made it past the committee stage.

Contact writer Samuel Speciale at sam.speciale@dailymailwv.com or 304-348-4886. Follow him at www.twitter.com/wvschools.

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(c)2014 the Charleston Daily Mail (Charleston, W.Va.)

Visit the Charleston Daily Mail (Charleston, W.Va.) at www.dailymail.com

Distributed by MCT Information Services


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Source: Charleston Daily Mail (WV)


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