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Economic development fund to help expand local businesses

By Staff | Feb 27, 2014


WAILUKU – The Mayor’s Office of Economic Development (OED) last week announced that it is launching a program designed to help expand Maui County businesses.

The Economic Development Revolving Fund (EDRF) was created by the Mayor’s Office and passed by the Maui County Council in late 2011.

The fund currently has $1 million which, by ordinance, was designed to strengthen and diversify the county’s economy; support existing county businesses; promote job creation; attract new business, industry, construction and events that will foster economic development in the county; and to improve the overall economic and social well-being of the county.

“This is a visionary program that could become a catalyst for growth for many businesses out there,” said Mayor Alan Arakawa. “By providing the capital, we provide opportunities for business to expand and hire new people and buy more goods and services from our community.

“For every dollar invested, we expect a return in our money by way of building a stronger economy when businesses realize their full potential.”

Although the program met with council approval several years ago, research was needed to put together the right policies and procedures, as well as create the proper application process.

Councilman Don Guzman, chairman of the council’s Economic Development, Energy, Agriculture and Recreation Committee, helped to format the program.

“This fund will allow businesses the extra push to achieve greater heights,” Guzman said.

“I want to thank OED and its partners for working with necessary legislation with my office in making sure the funds are used on what it is intended for – economic development.”

“We took a good deal of time to research these kinds of funds around the country, including consulting with Ben Franklin Technology Partners in Philadelphia, one of the nation’s longest-running economic development programs,” said OED Director Teena Rasmussen.

“We also worked closely with Maui Economic Development Board’s Tech Committee on the application and evaluation process. We are confident that we have a solid program and fair application process now in place.”

The EDRF is designed to give either grants or loans to both for-profit and nonprofit businesses that have a strong balance sheet, have established markets that show growth potential, and show strong potential for creating living wage employment for Maui County residents.

The fund’s purpose is to assist companies with these qualifications to expand their business through additional locations, new equipment, exporting opportunities, R&D for a demonstrated capability or product, or to commercialize capability or a new product.

The minimum award that will be made is $50,000. All applicants will need to demonstrate a one-to-one match in cash. The cash match can come from a third party grant or loan. Organizations or businesses that have other active grants with the County of Maui are not eligible to apply for this program.

The program will run year-round until all available funds are pledged. There is no deadline for applications.

The application and program details may be found on OED’s web page at www.mauicounty.gov/OED. For information, call the Mayor’s Office of Economic Development at 270-7710.