By: Justin Strawser
The Daily Item
SUNBURY - The Northumberland County Industrial Development Authority is funding a small business development loan program operated by the Rural Business Innovation Corporation that will provide financial assistance for start-up and small businesses in Northumberland County.
The county on Tuesday presented a $25,000 check to RBI, a Bloomsburg based 50l(c)3 nonprofit organization that serves Northumberland, Snyder, Union, Montour, Columbia, Luzerne, Lycoming, Schuylkill and Sullivan counties. The organization has incubators in Sunbury, Selinsgrove and Bloomsburg with plans to expand.
The new program will “focus on low to moderate families to help become self employed through company creation and job creation, and provide education and technical assistance for entrepreneurs,” said RBI executive director Kelly O’Brien Gavin. “We work with clients who are deemed not bankable. We help them build credit and establish themselves.” The program will operate as a restricted loan fund that will only be available for those looking to start or grow their business in Northumberland County, she said.
Each recipient must agree to work with RBI, take two workshops for education and finances and attend one networking event, Gavin said.
Larry Seibert, chairman of the RBI board, said he is “extremely excited” about the inaugural program and hopes it spreads to other counties.
Northumberland County Commissioner Chairman Rick Shoch said the program is part of a “multi-faceted approach” to making the county more attractive to businesses.
It is a “great resource” for those looking to expand, said Donald Alexander, Director of Planning and Economic Development for Northumberland County as well as the Director for the Northumberland Industrial Development Authority (NCIDA).
The small business development loan program is the second loan program available through the RBI. The organization also offers funding through a $100,000 USDA grant, Gavin said.
“Since 1996, we’ve had an 83 percent success rate for loans paid off and businesses still functioning,” she said.
RBI’s partners are Bloomsburg University, Bucknell University, Susquehanna University, The Ben Franklin Technology Partners in Bloomsburg, Northumberland County Industrial Development Authority, First Columbia Bank, First Keystone Bank, MNT Bank, Midd Penn Bank, state Rep. Lynda Schlegel Culver and state Rep. Dave Millard.