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Vilas County Mulls Setting Up A Revolving Loan Fund

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Creating a revolving loan fund (RLF) to assist local businesses to develop, expand, or locate in Vilas County was discussed Tuesday at a joint meeting of the county finance committee and economic development committee, receiving both support and opposition, and directing more work be done on the 19 page draft proposal.

The purpose of the fund would be to provide “gap” financing in cooperation with a bank to encourage creation and retention of permanent jobs and encourage new private investments. If approved, the initial funds would come from the unencumbered county general fund, now over $7 million. The idea of providing taxpayer dollars to a business that banks wouldn't fully fund didn't sit well with finance commiteee member Walt Maciag.

“I just came through Eagle River and counted five banks and you're asking taxpayers to assume a risk banks won't . . . I can't support this,” Maciag said.

Supervisor Charles Hayes supported the idea but felt there needed to be a template to evaluate the program. The committee's voted 6-1 to move forward refining how a RLF would operate and noting there are about 30 other counties with such a program than could provide both success stories and failures.

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