The JOED Partnership Economic Development Fund Committee met with Sheldon Bartel last week via Zoom.

L-R: Cowanda and Randy Bazile, Roy Herrick, JOEDP Chairman Scott Riggs, John Hunter, Mark Sutherland, and Ruth Christian. (Not pictured: Ed Garris, Dr. Penny Burlingame Deal, Melissa Anderson, and Chuck Uzzell)

We recently introduced you to consultant Sheldon Bartel, who has years of experience in the design and implementation of a variety of economic development funding models used across the US. He is the Field Director for the National Development Council (NDC) and JOED Partnership (JOEDP) has contracted with NDC for his technical assistance as the Development Fund Committee continues its work.

This process will ultimately yield an implementation plan for the establishment and operation of the Fund. Beyond filling the need for a revolving loan fund that provides gap financing in support of area businesses, the Fund will also serve as a source of funding for future product development.

Gap, or non-profit financing, exists to fill the need for debt capital in a project that is beyond the capacity of commercial lenders to underwrite. Mr. Bartel, in guiding the Committee toward development of their strategic objectives, asked “Who are you going to target, and for what?”

He offered this consideration, “There’s a lot to be said about investing in small businesses in your community. Every community seems to want to focus on the big attraction. In fishing terms, we call that “catching the big one.” But too often, communities let the “14 to 16 inchers” go. Remember, everyone starts somewhere. They (small businesses) can grow from a minnow to a shark with your help and assistance.” He also noted that helping small businesses grow their markets and sales allows them to bring “other people’s money” into the local economy, which is an economic development imperative for success.

Mr. Bartel outlined the basic requirements for administering a Revolving Loan Fund, including income streams, expenses, monitoring the loans and building a sustainable fund. As the JOEDP Economic Development Fund Committee prepares to answer the questions, “who are you targeting and for what?” Mr. Bartel described the options below.

Product Tiers—will the Committee offer Micro Grants or Loans? Both? Will the Fund provide venture capital, help businesses build equity, or offer flexible capital? Will the fund administer SBA loans? Each of those components included standard recommendations related to loan and grant amounts and repayment terms.

As the Fund Committee continues its formative work, Mr. Bartel will provide expertise from the broad strategy development down to the application process.  With his assistance, the Committee will design and implement a successful and sustainable fund that fills a necessary need in our economic development toolbox.   As the premier subject matter expert in this space, we are grateful for his expertise and time!