DISCUSSION — Harrison County Economic Development Director Nick Homrighausen, from left, President of the Harrison County Community Improvement Corp. Dale Arbaugh and executive board members Bob Hendricks and John Jones discuss the revolving loan fund and whether they could invest that money at Tuesday’s monthly meeting.
— J.D. Long
CADIZ — A subject that has been smoldering for several years was revitalized Nov. 9 at the Harrison County Community Improvement Corp. meeting when member Dennis Hirschback again inquired about the revolving loan fund and what could be done about it.
The amount the fund currently holds, according to Office Administrator Jody Hennis, is a little more than $265,000. Hirschbach asked if that money could be invested. Hennis said that restrictions were said to be placed on the loan and more research needed to be done on the matter. She was relaying what was said during a previous meeting when Harrison County Commissioner and CIC board member Don Bethel made the comments.
The fund is there for loaning money to aid small businesses but according to Harrison County Economic Development Director Nick Homrighausen, businesses are not exactly breaking down the door for loans.
Homrighausen suggested the board have someone with the state auditor’s office, “who will have direction,” look into the matter. Hirschbach said he’d contacted the State Treasury Asset Reserve and was told the board could invest the money but it would be difficult.
“In theory that money looks nice but you’re not going to be able to touch it,” he said of one private business owner, who wished to remain anonymous but had inquired about a loan. The paperwork became so cumbersome, the business owner said he chose not to touch it.
“It’s useless where it’s sitting right now,” Hirschback told the executive board. Homrighausen responded that the revolving loan fund is like a bank and, though he didn’t disagree with Hirschbach’s comment, that “banking laws are banking laws.” Hirschbach countered with the sentiment of others that the money needed to be placed where the county could put it to use.
“If it’s your responsibility or the commissioners, it needs to be moved on,” Hirschbach told Homrighausen. “It can be used if someone applies, and we’ve tried to help people apply for it,” Homrighausen answered.
Bethel said organization members really didn’t trust themselves because of past investment failures. He said that is why the fund is sitting there untouched. “I don’t mean the county, I mean the villages within the county,” Bethel said, referring to some loans that did not pan out. He added that the process the private business owner had been referring to was a “pain in the neck,” but said it is needed. He expressed frustration at being limited to handing out $25,000 per loan, but Homrighausen said that could be coupled with Ohio Mid-Eastern Governments Association, where up to $300,000 could be included.
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“If someone sees the possibility even though we know darn well in this group we’re focused on twenty-five, even if we raised the limit they might say, ‘Hey, well there’s an opportunity there,” Bethel said alluding to the possible additional amount being coupled with OMEGA funds.