CSM Program Helps Local Small Business Startups

LEONARDTOWN, Md. - The Board of County Commissioners for St. Mary's County took action to expand small business assistance, both counseling and financial by approving the College of Southern Maryland's continued funding for the Maryland Small Business Development Center and the Community Development Corporation's loan guarantee program.

The Board of County Commissioners unanimously voted on October 10, 2006 to continue the $15,000 in funding for fiscal year 2006 for the Maryland Small Business Development Center Network - Southern Maryland region most commonly referred to as the SBDC. Thomas McKay, President of the Board of County Commissioners signed a Memorandum of Understanding (MOU) with the College of Southern Maryland who hosts the Southern Region SBDC.

The Southern Region SBDC's mission is to assist St. Mary's County start-up businesses and existing small businesses with business counseling, assist businesses looking for financing, business training and partnership opportunities. Many of the business service available from the SBDC are at available at little or no cost.

A primary goal of the CSM SBDC has been to provide counseling services to U.S. military veterans and women-owned firms in St. Mary's County. The SBDC works closely with the St. Mary's County Department of Economic and Community Development, St. Mary's Chamber of Commerce and the Community Development Corporation. The relationship between the St. Mary's County local government and the Southern Region SBDC has existed for a number of years. The Southern Region SBDC may be reached at 301-866-1923 or http://www.sbdchelp.com/.

In a related matter, the Commissioners approved a recommendation of the Community Development Corporation to convert the County's existing revolving loan fund into a loan guarantee program. The Corporation has administered the small business loan program on behalf of St. Mary's County since 1999.

In the past, the Corporation acted as a "lender of last resort." Now, the Corporation will work in concert with local lenders to offer loan guarantees for business start-ups and early stage companies in the retail, service, technology or manufacturing sectors. The business must be locally owned and operated and must be located in one of the County's 11 Priority Funding Areas. Commercial areas throughout St. Mary's County are designated Priority Funding Areas.

The Development Corporation will provide a guarantee of up to 80% of the loan and will provide direct and ongoing assistance to the borrower in the preparation of a businesses plan and loan package. An application fee of $300 and settlement costs of one quarter to one percent apply to the program. To learn more about the Loan Guarantee Program, contact the Community Development Corporation at 240-725-5786.

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