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GUEST COLUMN: Helping Missouri small business owners reach their dreams

Tuesday, July 27, 2010 | 12:52 p.m. CDT

JEFFERSON CITY – On July 30, 1953, the Small Business Administration was founded and has since helped millions of American small business owners find the loans and information they need to be successful. Today, the SBA estimates there are more than 100,000 small businesses in Missouri with fewer than 20 employees. These are the mom and pop shops, such as hardware stores, pharmacies and restaurants, we visit every day. These small business owners and the jobs they create – 75 percent of the jobs created during an economic recovery – are one of the focuses of my administration and the low-interest loans we provide through the Missouri Linked Deposit Program.

Providing access to low-cost capital is one of the best ways we can help this economic recovery continue. Through the Missouri Linked Deposit Program my administration offers exactly that – loans that generally cost borrowers 30 percent less than a standard loan. Additionally, as we celebrate the SBA, we look to continue to combine programs for even more value.

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"The Small Business Administration routinely partners with the Missouri Linked Deposit Program to help small business owners make the investments they need," says Gary Cook, Kansas City District Director for the SBA. "The low-interest loans from the Missouri Linked Deposit Program combined with loan guarantees from us are a powerful economic tool for small business owners throughout Missouri. Every small business owner should look to partner the power of the two programs when accessing capital."

Gary's comment is exactly right. As I travel throughout the state, I regularly visit with local business owners who have used the low-interest loans and many who have combined them with SBA loan guarantees. I can tell you this effort is making a difference. Since January 2009, my administration has approved more than $340 million in loans impacting nearly 3,700 jobs and 1,400 farmers. These are jobs for contractors, jobs for pharmacists, jobs for scientists and jobs for farmers. The best part is that these loans are available to almost any Missouri small business qualifying for credit from a participating lender. Just go to www.treasurer.mo.gov to see if you are eligible.

Recently, I traveled to Trenton to celebrate the opening of Hometown Pharmacy. This is the only locally owned pharmacy in Trenton and brought with it six new jobs for the community. Pharmacy owner Mike Palmer has used the Missouri Linked Deposit Program for loans in the past, helping him to own and operate pharmacies and health-related stores in Chillicothe and Carrollton as well. This is economic growth for our state.

The Missouri Linked Deposit Program is about spurring investment in all corners of our economy. This past October I was fortunate enough to tour newly opened LipoSpectrum, a life science start up in St. Louis that uses patented technology to perform lipids research in the fight against diseases such as diabetes. Milind Sant used his low-interest loan to purchase equipment and to help maintain his business as he began to commercialize the technology.

Missouri Linked Deposit Program loans have been used by manufacturers of clay pots, cabinet makers, flower shops and more. These loans help Missourians start their dream businesses, expand ones they currently have and retain jobs during these difficult economic times. Almost any farm in Missouri is eligible to receive a loan and small businesses with up to 99 employees qualify. Additionally, local governments, housing developments and alternative-energy focused projects may qualify for the low-interest loans.

As we celebrate the 47th anniversary of the Small Business Administration's founding, I encourage all Missouri small business owners looking for capital to visit my website to learn more about this low-interest loan program, search the 100 lenders I partner with and learn about the opportunities it can provide for them. Together, we can help keep Main Street strong.

Clint Zweifel is Missouri's state treasurer.


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