Low-cost Loan Program Approved for Grafton Downtown

Date Posted: March 22, 2012

By Dave Fidlin
News Graphic, March 22, 2012

Following discussion and review, village officials Monday approved a business loan program. The initiative is designed to bolster retail activity in the village's downtown shopping district.

Members of the Grafton Village Board voted unanimously in favor of the program, which will provide a revolving loan fund that will provide low-cost loans pertaining to start-up costs for new businesses, as well as existing businesses located within the village of Grafton's Downtown Redevelopment District.

Oconomowoc-based First Bank Financial Centre will be assisting the village with funding the loans. The institution has pledged to commit up to $250,000 in loans toward Grafton's downtown area.

"We're delighted to have this partnership in place with this bank," Village Administrator Darrell Hofland said.

There are a number of parameters set for a business to be considered in the low-cost loan program. Eligible activities include redeveloping blighted or vacant buildings, environmental clean-up, land or building acquisition and equipment purchases.

Ineligible activities include allocating funds toward purchasing financial equity in private businesses, subsidizing interest payments on existing loans and refinancing loans made by other lenders.

The minimum loan amount for any business is $5,000, while the maximum is $25,000.

Michael Rambousek, director of planning and development, will be overseeing the loan program on the village's end. Current or prospective business owners need to submit an application to Rambousek, who will review it with consultation from Village Attorney Michael Herbrand.

If the application proceeds, it will be reviewed by a downtown business committee. Staff at First Bank Financial Centre also will be performing an underwriting analysis. According to terms outlined in the policy, applications will be kept confidential until formal approval is granted.

Village officials have touted the loan program as an economic incentive that could spur businesses and redevelop blighted or vacant buildings within the downtown region.