Chadron Council Wants Public Input On NNDC Revolving Loan Fund Plan

The Chadron City Council likes the idea of using its LB-840 economic development sales tax money to create a revolving loan fund and a business assistance fund for Chadron businesses, but there’s enough disagreement that it’s been tabled for 2 weeks.

There’s currently about $288,000 in the fund, which grows $7-to-9,000 a month, and the proposal is to put $260,000 in the loan pool and $25,000 into the assistance fund of forgivable loans – both run for the city by NNDC, the Northwest Nebraska Development Corporation.

NNDC executive director Deb Cottier said the loan and assistance funds proposal grew out of 6 months of discussion between her board, city staff, and local business leaders that began well before the pandemic hit.

All 5 council members expressed support for the idea, but Cheryl Welch and George Klein felt the city’s experience with last month’s coronavirus micro-grant program, which gave money to nearly 70 local businesses, makes holding onto some of the money a better move.

Klein thought keeping $60,000 and funding the two NNDC funds at $225,000 would give the city more flexibility in helping local businesses hurt by the pandemic, but Mayor Miles Bannan said he felt the money could do more for the city with NNDC in charge of getting it out to viable businesses.

The city last received LB-840 loan applications 3 years ago and doesn’t have the staff or resources to fully implement the economic development plan passed by the voters along with the sales tax. Cottier said NNDC doesn’t either, but can handle this part of it.

She pointed to NNDC’s nearly 30 years of running revolving loan funds with over $2.5-million dollars for over 60 projects and a default rate of less than 2.5%.

Two letters to the city questioned the need for the proposal to be decided right away, both saying that with the coronavirus limits and the council meeting being done as a video-conference many private citizens couldn’t give their input because they lack the needed equipment or connection.

That led to a motion to table adoption of the plan until the next council meeting to give the public more time to give input. It passed 3-2 with Bannan and Keith Crofutt casting the dissenting votes.

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