State economic development programs discussed with county commissioners

·6 min read
Guernsey County Administration Building
Guernsey County Administration Building

Economic development programs available through the office of Ohio Treasurer Robert Sprague were the topics of a presentation by public affairs liaison Cody Petit when he visited Guernsey County commissioners on Thursday.

Grow Now, ECO-Link, Re Energize Ohio and ag-LINK were the programs highlighted by Petit.

"It's basically a way to reduce the interest rates on loans," said Petit "The loans are not through the treasurer's office. They are through their personal bank, but we make an agreement with the bank that says we are going to deposit or invest part of our assets in that bank at a reduced interest rate and then they give that interest rate reduction to the consumer."

Petit warned that not every bank is an Ohio depository bank and not all banks use these economic development programs.

"It's a good way to lower the interest rate if you are a farmer, a homeowner or a small business owner and want to retain or hire new employees or expand your business," said Petit.

The following is a synopsis of the four programs:

  • Grow NOW — Small business owners can receive up to a 3% interest rate reduction on new or existing loans up to $400,000, for two year, with the opportunity for renewal. Participating businesses must commit to creating or retaining jobs in the State of Ohio, which support small business and encourages job creation and business expansion.

  • ECO-Link — Enables Ohio homeowners to receive up to a 3% interest rate reduction on home improvement loans for up to $50,000. The loan must be used towards home improvement projects such as remodeling, roofing, solar power and more. Investments through ECO-Link revitalize communities and support businesses who provide home improvement products and services.

  • Re Energize Ohio — Small businesses looking to expand operations or renovate their existing buildings may qualify for loans with a four-year interest rate reduction of up to 3%, with a program cap of $550,000. Qualified entities may also use the loan for upgrading and adding equipment, or installing energy-saving products and systems.

  • ag-LINK — The annual program allows eligible farm operators and agribusiness owners to receive up to a 3% interest rate reduction on operating loans of $150,000 or less. The program helps offset the impact of upfront costs for feed, seed, fertilizer, fuel and inventory.

According to Petit, the treasurer's office is looking at possible changes to the ag-LINK program including eliminating the $150,000 cap due to the rising cost of doing business in recent years.

"It will be controlled by our office instead of the legislature and there will still be a cap but it won't be that low," said Petit. "That's because farmers right now with the inflationary market have really seen their input for everything skyrocket, so we wanted to help them."

Petit also discussed the Family Forward program, a spin off the economic development programs where prospective parents receive up to a 3% rate reduction on loans that can be used for qualified adoption expenses up to $50,000.

Qualified adoption expenses include, but are not limited to, adoption agency expenses, court and legal fees, expenses incurred on behalf of the birth mother, health and psychological exam fees, home studies and travel expenses.

"We want to help Ohioans find their forever family," said Petit.

Visit ohiotreasurer.gov/FamilyFoward or call 1-800-228-1102 for more information or to view a list of participating financial institutions.

Petit also discussed the Ohio Market Access Program through the treasurer's office that provides a credit-enhancement for the county. It is limited to a one-year note that gives the county the same credit rating as the state treasurer's office.

"It will be the lowest you can probably find on the bond market for a one-year note," said Petit, who advised commissioners Belmont County officials have taken advantage of the program.

The final program discussed by Petit was STABLE Account, a program assisting people who developed disabilities before the age of 26.

"It's a really awesome program," said Petit. "It allows individuals with disabilities to put their money in a pre-tax account that can be used for (disability-related) medical expenses."

Qualified expenses include basic living expenses, housing, transportation, assistive technology, employment training, education, health and wellness, financial management and legal fees.

Petit said more than 20,000 Ohioans are taking advantage of the STABLE Account program.

"It's a really useful program," added Petit. "Companies or local governments can partner with us to add a STABLE deduction to their payroll. It's one of the things we are most proud of in our office."

Ohio was one of the first states to participate in the federal program.

Visit stableaccount.com or call 1-800-439-1653 for more information about the STABLE Account program.

"The state treasurer's office to a lot of people may be considered boring, but I think there are a lot of useful programs for Ohioans in this office," concluded Petit.

In other business, commissioners entered into a contract with the SouthEastern Ohio Joint Solid Waste Management District Advisory Board for solid waste management services.

SouthEastern will pay the county $3,399 to undertake the activities and obligations provided by the Ohio Revised Code in Guernsey County.

A public viewing regarding vacating Enos Lane in Cambridge Township is scheduled for 9 a.m. on Feb. 24, followed by a hearing at the commissioner's office at 10 a.m.

Commissioners executed the $1,000 fire protection contract with the Old Washington Fire Department to provide fire protection and emergency medical services including the Guernsey County Fairgrounds and Countryview Assisted Living.

Commissioners made the following reorganization appointments and authorizations for 2022:

  • Clerk — Michele Long.

  • Deputy clerk — Ann Lanzer.

  • Prevailing wage coordinator (except for County Highway projects), CRA Housing officer, Enterprise Zone manager and Civil Rights officer — Long.

  • Head of Maintenance and Janitorial departments — Todd Carpenter.

  • Countryview Assisted Living superintendent — Adrianne Paden.

  • Loss control coordinators for County Risk-Sharing Association incentive program — Carpenter and Long.

  • Guernsey County Water & Sewer Department superintendent — Jeff Alfman.

  • Ex-officio member of Cambridge Main Street Committee — Commissioner Jack Marlin.

  • Ohio Mid-Eastern Governments Association Policy Board — Norm Blanchard, Commissioner Dave Wilson, Commissioner Skip Gardner and Marlin (alternate).

  • OMEGA Executive Board — Gardner and Blanchard (alternate).

  • Guernsey County Board of Revision — Gardner and Marlin (alternate).

  • Ex-officio member of Guernsey County Extension Advisory Committee — Wilson.

  • Ex-officio member Guernsey County Port Authority — Gardner and Marlin (alternate).

  • Public Records Coordinator — Wilson.

  • Budget Commission — Prosecutor Lindsey Angler, Auditor Tony Brown and Treasurer James Caldwell.

  • Investment Advisory Committee — Clerk of Courts Jennifer Johnson, Gardner, Wilson and Caldwell.

  • Southeastern Ohio Joint Solid Waste Management District Policy Advisory Committee — Wilson and Marlin.

  • Cambridge/Guernsey County Visitors & Convention Bureau — Wilson.

  • Guernsey County Emergency Management Agency Administrative Agent — Executive Director Amy McCance.

  • Consortium Board — Gardner and Marlin (alternate).

  • Authorize Caldwell to handle all county fund investments.

  • Approve travel reimbursement for Caldwell to attend county treasurer, state association and district-sponsored treasurer's meetings.

  • Approve travel reimbursement for Johnson to attend state and district sponsored meetings.

Guernsey County commissioners meet each Tuesday and Thursday at the County Administration Building, 627 Wheeling Ave. in Cambridge.

Call the office, 740-432-9200, for more information or to be added to a meeting agenda.

This article originally appeared on The Daily Jeffersonian: Guersey County commissioners learn about Ohio development programs