Ripley Council considers discontinuing revolving loans to local businesses

By Martha Jacob

Charles Ashmore, Ripley Village Council’s former administrator, was instrumental in setting up a low interest, revolving loan to new businesses and current businesses wanting to expand within the Village of Ripley.
Ashmore implemented the Rural Business Enterprise Grant (RBEG) revolving loan program in mid 2014.
At that time the village received RBEG funds of $99,000 and the village contributed an additional $10,000. These funds could only be applied for by residents of Ripley.
“Under this program,” explained current administrator Pete Renshaw, “the USDA provided zero interest loans to local municipalities which they, in turn, pass through to local businesses for projects that will create and retain employment in rural areas.
“The receivers of the loan then repay the lending municipality directly, and then the municipality is able to re-lend the money. To apply for a USDA loan, one must be a resident of the municipality and have a business that wishes to use the loan for start-up venture costs, including, but not limited to, financing fixed assets such as real estate, buildings (new or existing), equipment or working capital.”
Renshaw said that the primary purpose of the loan program is to start or expand businesses and to provide employment to local residents.
“The problem is,” Renshaw said, “For Ripley, there has never been much interest among the local business community and if the business is located in a historic district, any changes to either the exterior or interior of the building must be approved by the Ohio Historical Society.”
The RBEG is administered by the United States Department of Agriculture Rural Development with funding provided by the department of agriculture. The loans are offered at a 1% interest and will be paid back directly to the village in its own account, which will replenish the program’s revolving loan fund program.
According to current Village Administrator Pete Renshaw, the total amount left in the  revolving loan account is $9,000. Renshaw is now questioning if the village should continue with the program, which seems to be designed for and better utilized by a larger municipality.