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The Right Fit for Financing
Harford County OED Connects Businesses to Funding

December 2017

Financing is the lifeblood of any business, but finding the right loan at the right time can be a challenge for startups and established companies alike. The Harford County Office of Economic Development saves them time and money by helping businesses find the right fit among available loans from the private and public sectors, including a new series of loans suited to specific needs.

“When public and private lenders work together to address unmet business needs, everyone wins,” says Bonnie Barresi, finance liaison for the Office of Economic Development (OED). “When businesses get the financing they need, they bring jobs to Harford County, they promote growth in revitalization areas, and they improve the quality of life for everyone who lives, plays and works in Harford County.” OED connects people with lenders for traditional financing, but even these lenders realize they can’t meet every business owner’s needs. OED aims to solve this problem with its new loan programs.

These four project-specific loans take into account a business’s development stage, sector and location. Each program focuses on providing mission-specific, geographically-targeted options for developing sectors within the county. The Entrepreneurial Growth Loan, the Revitalization Area Improvement Loan, the Tech Attraction Fund and the Opportunity Fund Loan focus on unique demands within the Harford County business community and its continuum of business development and expansion.

The Entrepreneurial Growth Loan

The Entrepreneurial Growth Loan provides a bridge between a growing business’s initial investment and traditional financing. “While not excluding start-ups, the program’s target business will be one that demonstrates success and future growth, but cannot acquire traditional financing,” Barresi says. The program is designed to advance these businesses that have passed the start-up phase, and then connect them with banks and credit unions to ensure continued expansion and success. Details of the loan:

• Maximum amount of $50,000 (can be extended out to five years)
• Risk-based interest rate (if the business adds new jobs during the loan’s life, it may be eligible for a 0.25% rate decrease annually)

The Revitalization Area Improvement Loan

The Revitalization Area Improvement Loan program targets business owners and tenants facing the U.S. Route 40 corridor in Harford County. The Route 40 corridor is a significant business hub located within the county’s Enterprise Zone and the state of Maryland’s Priority Funding Area, which means a lot of investment is going into the revitalization of this strategic location. This loan program is meant to promote a building’s appearance, to raise economic expectations, and to stimulate growth in the area.

Details of the loan:

• Limited to buildings facing U.S. Route 40
• Assists in financing projects that improve the exterior of the building, as well as a percentage of specified interior improvements with pre-application approval
• Provides up to $50,000 through a term of 3-5 years
• Low or zero percent interest rate options
• Offers 0% interest to companies in the program that use local businesses and contractors for their improvement and renovation efforts
• Businesses that use non-local contractors and companies would be offered a 1.5% interest rate

“The most common theme of façade improvement programs is a focus on identified revitalization areas and providing low-cost or no-cost funding to businesses,” Barresi says.

The Tech Attraction Fund

The Tech Attraction Fund is another option available to businesses through OED. This fund provides financial incentives to growing and stable technology companies or tech catalyst organizations to relocate to Harford County. With proximity to Aberdeen Proving Ground, the Port of Baltimore, Washington D.C., and the I-95 corridor, Harford County is ideal for technology companies to grow and thrive; this fund aims to attract and retain these companies. Details of the fund:

• Offers a 0% interest rate if the company commits to staying in Harford County for a minimum of 3 years
• Requires a minimum of three full-time employees
• No closing costs at settlement
• Grants up to $50,000 over a term of up to 5 years, which cannot exceed the term of the company’s lease

The Economic Development Opportunity Fund

The Economic Development Opportunity Fund (EDOF) is a revitalized fund program that increases a company’s financing for new equipment and operations by complementing traditional lending programs. Details:

• Maximum loan amount of $200,000
• Risk-based interest rate
• Encourages investment, job retention and creation
• Increases working capital
• Aids with equipment purchases and land or building improvements

To date, this loan program has provided 28 loans, creating 303 new full-time jobs and leveraging $36.5 million in private capital investment in Harford County. Says Economic Development Director Karen Holt, “By refreshing the application process and promoting this along with our other programs, we aim to stimulate the economic vibrancy that is fundamental to this business community.”

Continuing Partnerships

Under the administration of County Executive Barry Glassman, Barresi and the Office of Economic Development continue to work closely with companies and lenders in the community in order to adequately meet the evolving financial needs of the business sector. OED’s loan programs are complementary to financing options from traditional lenders such as PNC Bank. Bill Fritz, vice president and business banker at PNC, works with Barresi to match businesses to the best option available. “More options benefit the business owner for what may be best for their current need,” Fritz says. “With varying sizes and kinds of businesses, and unique situations, traditional funding is not always available, and it can sometimes leave the prospect with few to no options. [OED’s new] loans will help fill the gap.”

Barresi and the team at OED use their connections and expertise to help businesses save time and money and overcome the challenge of navigating loan options, enabling growth and economic vitality. Leaders in the community are optimistic about OED’s new programs and the collaboration between lenders and OED. “The Harford County economic development loan programs should stimulate the growth of existing businesses as well as attract new businesses to the county,” says Augie Chiasera, president of M&T Bank’s Greater Baltimore Region. “We look forward to coordinating with county officials to promote these programs and helping companies utilize them to achieve their full growth potential.”

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Bonnie Barresi, Finance Liaison/Business Development Associate, The Office of Economic Development

For information on the new loan programs by the Harford County Office of Economic Development, or to learn about traditional financing options available, contact:

Bonnie Barresi
Finance Liaison
Business Development Associate
The Office of Economic Development
2021D Pulaski Highway
Havre de Grace, MD 21078