10 Dec Eau Claire Pulls Together, Forms Million-Dollar Technology Loan Program
Eau Claire, Wis. – Technology entrepreneurs often experience a difficult time in securing conventional loans in order to finance their company’s growth. But, for high-technology firms in located in the Eau Claire region help is on the way as a result of some creative regional business collaboration. A group of nine financial institutions, the Gateway Industrial Park Corporation, and Eau Claire County have come together to create a $1 million loan pool.
The need of these businesses was illustrated in a speech delivered at an annual Eau Claire Economic Development meeting in February 2003 by Jeff West, president of Silicon Logic Engineering.
“There are two basic types of business financing for small or entrepreneurial companies,” West said. “There are small loans for small businesses with capital, and there are angel or venture funds for technology-related companies that are going to grow quickly and have significant returns within four years. Many companies have a business model that falls in between these two business financing options, and these businesses can not get the type of financing they need.”
Craig Carlson, executive director of the Eau Claire Area Economic Development Corporation (ECAEDC), organized the initiative.
“The economic outcomes tracked for this initiative include raising the per capita income, increasing employment in high-technology businesses, increasing retention and employment of highly educated technologists, and increasing research and development expenditures and patents issued,” Carlson said. “We are always looking for new ways to assist businesses in the Chippewa Valley.”
Companies eligible to apply to the loan pool include technology companies whose principal business is research, development, computer software, computer hardware, biotechnology, optics, or plastics. The program is specifically designed to target companies with proprietary products and services as well as intellectual property.
“I commend this public-private initiative to develop a new source of early-stage capital in the Chippewa Valley,” Governor James Doyle said. “My Grow Wisconsin plan recognizes the importance of regional cooperation as we work to build a better entrepreneurial climate across Wisconsin.”
A loan committee comprised of four financial lenders, the Eau Claire County Chairperson of the IDA, a representative from the Gateway Industrial Park Corporation and a non-voting technology consultant will review the loan applications.
“The Technology Loan Pool represents unprecedented cooperation between area financial institutions, willing to make a positive statement for economic development,” said Dean Olson, president of Charter Bank and Treasurer of the ECAEDC. “The financial institutions will participate in funding loans that would not normally meet their credit standards or provide any client relationships because it is their goal to make a difference in the success of technology-related businesses in the Chippewa Valley.”
Loan applications will be processed through the Eau Claire Area Economic Development Corporation. For more information about the loan pool, visit http://www.eauclaire-wi.com/techloanpool.htm.
Anna Sizer is Principal of Sizer Communications. She can be reached at email@example.com.