Mandan News

Opportunity Fund helps local businesses

North Dakota Opportunity Fund leaders this month are filing a federal quarterly report indicating that the consortium of 38 municipalities has fully committed to its small business loan program the original $9.7 million allocation it received from the U.S. Treasury Department State Small Business Credit Initiative. Funding was originally awarded in September of 2012.

“So far, including the revolved funds, the Opportunity Fund has committed $10.5 million to small business loans, leveraging more than $79 million in private sector financing for 29 businesses in 13 communities,” Brent Ekstrom, Deputy Director of the Lewis and Clark Regional Development Council, said.

The Regional Council administers the loan program from its offices in Mandan. Administrative costs have been kept low, at only 2.5 percent of the allocation.

“Businesses that received loans for start-up or expansion are now making payments, allowing the loan fund to revolve and continue as a source of assistance for many more businesses for the foreseeable future,” Ellen Huber, Business Development and Communications Director for the City of Mandan, lead municipality for the consortium, said.

Cities benefitting from projects so far are Beach, Bismarck, Beulah, Carson (providing sponsorship for a project in Heil), Casselton, Dickinson, Fargo, Mandan, Minot, Steele, Watford City, West Fargo (providing sponsorship for a project in Mapleton) and Williston. Types of businesses assisted include three manufacturers, a computer software firm, five retail stores, five restaurants, three hotels, three convenience stores, a daycare center and eight businesses in the areas of industrial services, trade contractors and truck service shops. Loans range from $8,000 to $1 million. The fund has helped retain 128 jobs and create 364 jobs with the participating businesses.

Other municipalities in the Mandan consortium are the cities of Almont, Beach, Beulah, Bismarck, Bowman, Carson, Casselton, Crosby, Dickinson, Dodge, Dunn Center, Fargo, Garrison, Glen Ullin, Halliday, Hazelton, Hazen, Hebron, Hettinger, Killdeer, Lincoln, Linton, McClusky, Minot, Mott, New England, New Salem, Regent, Sentinel Butte, Steele, Turtle Lake, Underwood, Watford City, West Fargo, Williston and Wilton; and the Standing Rock Sioux Tribe.

Lenders are more apt to approve business loans by partnering with this program, which can fund up to 50 percent of an eligible business project. Business applicants must have at least 10 percent of their own money in a project and there must be a private lead lender. The maximum direct loan size is $1 million, supporting total loan packages up to $10 million.

Eligible uses include business start-up costs, working capital, business procurement, franchise fees, equipment, inventory and the purchase, construction, renovation or improvements of an eligible place of business.

SSBCI funding was approved as part of the Small Business Jobs Act of 2010. Businesses and lenders may obtain more information about the North Dakota Opportunity Fund by calling the Lewis and Clark Regional Development Council at 701-667-7620 or by visiting