Northampton Commissioners approve Small Business loans

Published 6:19 pm Friday, January 3, 2020

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JACKSON – The first two loans from Northampton County’s new Small Business Loan Program were approved by the Board of Commissioners after closed session at their Dec. 16 meeting. These monies are intended to help open an Ace Hardware store in Jackson and a seafood restaurant in Rich Square.

The commissioners introduced the Small Business Loan Program at a public hearing in mid-November. Following up at the beginning of December, they approved funding for the program would come from a county appropriation of up to $500,000 from the General Fund.

The purpose of the program is to support the creation and growth of small businesses in Northampton County by functioning as a lending source for those who may not be able to secure loans through traditional sources.

The loan money is eligible to be used for a variety of purposes including operational funds, purchase of equipment or machinery, improvement of owner-occupied commercial property, start-up funding, expansion of business services/products, acquisition of owner-occupied commercial real estate, workforce expansion, infrastructure costs, and more.

All loans are secured by personal collateral to ensure the county is protected in case of default.

The first loan recipient was South Dominion LLC, the company which owns and operates the Food Fresh grocery store in Jackson. They applied for the loan to finance costs of inventory purchases and start-up/operational costs for an Ace Hardware franchise on the same property as the grocery store.

South Dominion LLC will receive $100,000, which is the maximum amount allowed in the Small Business Loan Program, with payments beginning in June 2020. The fixed interest rate is Prime plus 2 percent (6.75 percent).

This same company previously received a $225,000 loan from the county’s similar Revolving Loan Program in Dec. 2018 to open the Food Fresh grocery store. Payments for that loan were originally deferred for six months, but are currently being paid back to the county on time, according to a county official.

The Revolving Loan Program, originally funded by leftover Community Development Block Grants, is more restrictive than the new program in how the money can be used.

The second loan approved by the commissioners was to Horace L. Robinson, doing business as Ethelean’s Seafood. He applied for $18,000 to finance the costs of equipment purchases and start-up costs for a seafood restaurant to be located on Main Street in Rich Square. Payments will begin in June 2020 at a fixed interest rate of Prime plus 2 percent (6.75 percent).

Both loans were approved by unanimous votes from the Board, though Commissioner Geneva Faulkner recused herself from voting on the Robinson loan.

Interested participants for the Small Business Loan Program can submit applications to Franklin Williams at the Northampton County Economic Development Commission.