Officials have retooled Sussex County's economic development loan program.
At its Dec. 5 meeting, county council approved the creation of a program that will use a mix of public and private funds totaling $4 million that businesses in target zones can use to expand operations and create jobs.
The ExciteSussex Loan Program will be funded through two major sources. Sussex County government is contributing $750,000 and Discover Bank is providing the balance of $3.25 million. The $4 million will be managed by the National Development Council and will be distributed in the form of low-interest, long-term loans to qualifying borrowers that are evaluated by the county and the national council.
Businesses must have at least 10 full-time employees and have been in operation for at least two years; they can borrow up to $1 million. Priority will be given to loans that create or retain permanent full-time jobs. Loans will be federally guaranteed and be available for as little as 3.94 percent based on current rates.
Sussex Economic Development Director William Pfaff and Finance Director Gina Jennings made the presentation to council.
Jennings said county funds will come from the original economic development loan program – created in 2004, which has a $752,000 balance.
Under the old program, four loans were granted from 2005 to 2012. When a grant component was added in 2013, the county issued two grants.
The old program had a maximum loan or grant of $250,000 that had to be repaid within 15 years. The new program offers up to $1 million with repayment terms from 10 to 25 years.
Pfaff said the county has created three economic development zones – along the Route 13 corridor, the Nanticoke zone; and two zones along the Route 113 corridor, from Ellendale southward, the Broadkill and Indian River zones.
The program will start with businesses in the Nanticoke zone and eventually move to the Route 113 zones, Pfaff said.
Officials plan to launch the program by late January 2018. For more information on the loan program and other incentive packages available in Sussex County, visit the county economic development website at https://excitesussex.com/exceed/incentives/.