Treasurer says small-business loan program a job tool for Southeast Missouri during Cape visit
Southeast MissourianBrian Blackwell
Sunday, January 31, 2010
A loan program for farms and small businesses is a responsible way of supporting businesses, state Treasurer Clint Zweifel said Saturday.
During a stop in Cape Girardeau, Zweifel discussed the Missouri Linked Deposit Program. Expanded in 2009, the program has lent about $200 million to qualifying farms and small businesses in the state, including $39 million to those in Southeast Missouri. Another $520 million is available for loans, which go toward farms and small businesses with fewer than 100 employees.
"It’s a job tool for Southeast Missouri," Zweifel said. "It’s a way to support small business and agriculture.
"What we hope it will do is when we look back over the last few years of lending, we’ll see we’ve created a better environment for small businesses to succeed and thrive in Southeast Missouri," he said. "And we’ll have done it in a responsible way for the taxpayer."
The loan program is a partnership of the treasurer’s office and the state’s community lenders. The loans place state funds with community banks at below-market interest rates. The banks then issue loans at reduced rates, which can save borrowers 2 to 3 percentage points.
About 100 lenders with 175 branches throughout the state use the Missouri Linked Deposit Program. According to the treasurer’s office, local lenders participating include Alliance Bank in Cape Girardeau and Sikeston, First Missouri State Bank of Cape County, Montgomery Bank in Cape Girardeau, Peoples Bank of Altenburg in Jackson, Regions Bank in Cape Girardeau, Bank of Missouri in Cape Girardeau and Marble Hill, Mo., and Wood and Hutson Bank in Cape Girardeau.
Zweifel said the program has saved borrowers about $663,000 in interest costs in 2009.
"The long-term impact is we have something special in Missouri that is a way of reinvesting in small business," Zweifel said. "We will see more businesses grow."
Zweifel was in Cape Girardeau as part of his "Road to the Majority" tour to discuss the loan program and rally support for Democratic candidates in upcoming elections for statewide offices. On Friday he visited Festus, Mo., and Ste. Genevieve, Mo. Because of the weather, stops Saturday in Caruthersville, Mo., New Madrid, Mo, Poplar Bluff, Mo., and Sikeston, Mo., were canceled.
Speaking to a crowd of about 25, Zweifel said he is confident leadership in the Missouri Legislature will bring both Republicans and Democrats together. He added that the last statewide elections gave him hope for the future of the Democratic Party in the state. On Nov. 4, 2008, Democrat candidates in Missouri won the offices of governor, treasurer, secretary of state, attorney general and auditor. Republican Peter Kinder won the lieutenant governor’s race that year.
"I think we’ve gone through a challenging time in last few months," Zweifel said. "But when you stop and think about what we accomplished this past time, getting five out of six officials, those are pretty good numbers and that’s a heck of a start."