City creating RLF for new, start-up businesses


October 6, 2017

Sidney is pursing federal and state grant opportunities to create a revolving loan fund for new and start-up businesses.

"In the last few months a couple of newer start-up type companies have approached myself and the city wanting to know what we could do to help them out in terms of either growing a new business, purchasing an existing business, or starting up a new company from scratch," Melissa Norgard, city economic development director, said.

Such businesses, though, don't meet the requirements for city LB840 grant funds.

"With that plan you need to create at least five new jobs, and then based on what the total payroll would be, we recommend to the city council how much we can give through that fund," Norgard said. "Since typically a start-up is one or two people, that doesn't apply to them."

As a government, the city can apply for USDA funds, Norgard said, which can be used to create a revolving loan fund to support newly starting businesses.

"It would ideally help out the small businesses in town, the entrepreneurs who are looking to get off their feet, or maybe somebody who wants to take a risk and start a new business, but they don't have the funds to do so," Norgard said.

The USDA fiscal year ended Sept. 30, with the new application period starting after Nov. 1, at which point Norgard will ready the application for the funds on the city's behalf.

"Hopefully, if they have not started their venture or still need help in the future, I'll keep their contact information for those people who have reached out and they all do know we are researching some new opportunities to start something like this," she said.

The city is also pursuing Nebraska Innovation Fund grants to support local entrepreneurs.

"They'll help you with some of the seed money. They'll help you find investors," Norgard said. "There are all sorts of opportunities out there through the state that can help you if you have something, an idea you want to chase after, they'll help you get it prototyped and get it started."

Resources would also be available for people who, while not ready to start a business, are maybe thinking about it.

"There are programs to assist people who have been working in corporate-type environments and have always wanted to take that first step into starting a business, but are worried about funding sources and having a steady income," Norgard said. "We want to foster their entrepreneurial spirit and help them get off their feet and do everything we can to help them succeed."

Sidney is working closely with the Nebraska Department of Economic Development, as well, to help create greater awareness of the city's resources.

In August, Norgard gave department officials a tour of the city.

"They wanted to look at all the available land and available buildings in town," she said, "so when they get prospects calling them, asking them on a state level what areas of the state would be good for them to expand into, they know what we have here."


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