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ABDC Corp. loan program to help startup businesses

HOLLIDAYSBURG — The Altoona Blair County Development Corp. and Blair County commissioners have settled on an arrangement allowing ABCD to retain a revolving loan program to help local startup businesses.

Commissioners acknowledged Tuesday that the county, in 1997, secured an $85,000 grant from the state’s Department of Community and Economic Development, then relied on ABCD to use that money to set up a revolving loan program to help small businesses grow and expand.

With all but $10,000 of the loan money paid back, ABCD President and CEO Stephen McKnight asked commissioners to consider transferring the grant to ABCD so the agency could form the First Frontier Blair County Micro-Loan Program and keep the loan program going.

Commissioners, learning that the county’s grant reporting requirements have been fulfilled, readily agreed.

DCED was also contact-ed, County Administrator Helen Schmitt said, and it offered no objections to the proposed transfer of the money and responsibilities.

At Tuesday’s weekly commissioners meeting, commissioners voted to proceed with the transfer, represented by an enlarged check that ABCD personnel brought to the county.

This action allows the money to remain available to help small businesses, which make up the foundation of our regional economy, commissioners Chair­man Bruce Erb said.

According to information provided by DCED, the original micro-enterprise grant of $85,000 helped six local businesses expand, resulting in the retention of more than 100 jobs.

“Economic developers can plan and push a vision to ensure there are relevant resources in place to help entrepreneurs along,” McKnight said. “But in the end, only the founders, investors and risk-takers can make a business happen. This micro-loan fund can be the first key ingredient.”

Mirror Staff Writer Kay Stephens is at 946-7456.

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