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  2. Youngstown, OH 44503
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County CIC Considers Small Business Loan Fund

YOUNGSTOWN, Ohio – The Mahoning County Community Improvement Corp. plans to establish a loan fund for small businesses in unincorporated areas in Mahoning County.

Officials with the agency said Thursday they would explore partnering with Mahoning Valley Economic Development Corp. and Mahoning County Convention & Visitors Bureau to use about $87,000 it has to assist businesses in townships and rural areas.

“There’s so much money out there for big businesses. There’s very limited funds for the little guy,” Mahoning County commissioner Carol Rimedio-Righetti said.

“This is something we’ve talked about for quite some time,” added John Moliterno, executive director of the Western Reserve Port Authority.

When the port authority took over management of the CIC last year, Moliterno said, officials suggested putting together a revolving loan fund specifically for the county’s townships and rural areas.

Particulars of the program are still being put together, but funds would be loaned at a low interest rate, said Sarah Lown, public finance manager with the Northeast Ohio Development and Finance Authority, the port authority’s economic development arm.

“We’re looking for any projects that promote local businesses but also promote the Valley,” she said. She also is looking at loan and grant combinations, perhaps in conjunction with potential partners in the initiative.

Lown said she hopes to have the program pulled together by the end of March.

Members of the CIC board also heard a report on the new $1.8 million Canfield water tower project, which the port authority helped finance. It is expected to be completed this summer.

The new tower was needed for “the health and safety” of Canfield township and city residents, and to bring more water to support development there, Rimedio-Righetti said.

The commissioner recalled how low water pressure affected efforts to fight the September 2011 fire at Do Cut True Value Hardware there. “They had to truck in water because of the [low] pressure. You couldn’t even get pressure out of that hose from the hydrant,” she said.