Racine County, WI – As the COVID-19 pandemic spread throughout the country, the Racine County Economic Development Corporation (RCEDC) received a funding solution to positively impact 22 Racine County businesses.
In 2020, amidst the economic challenges resulting from the pandemic, the US Economic Development Administration (EDA) was charged with administering CARES Act Recovery Assistance funds. The program was designed to provide a wide range of financial assistance to communities, like Racine County, to help recover from the impacts of the pandemic.
In July 2020, RCEDC received a grant of $3.6 million to capitalize and administer a newly created loan program, the ZERO Loan Program.
The goal of the ZERO Loan Program was to keep workers employed, stabilize businesses, and strengthen Racine County’s economy. The loan program had a streamlined review process, charged 0% interest, charged $0 processing fees, and offered deferred principal repayments for 18 months.
The ZERO Loan Program became very popular. In Racine County, businesses largely used the loan program to finance equipment and working capital needs. Businesses of all sizes and industries, both rural and urban, accessed the program.
Flitz International – based in Waterford, Wis – is a cleaning and polishing supply manufacturer that has been in business for over 45 years. The company used the ZERO Loan Program to purchase equipment and create jobs in the community.
“The Zero Loan Program helped out our business tremendously,” said Michael Palechek, controller for Flitz International. “The funding we received allowed us to continue operations and offer employment opportunities for people in the community. Our employees have been and will always be our most valuable resource.”
Burlington’s Bassett Racing Wheels also used the ZERO Loan Program to purchase equipment. Bassett Racing Wheels was established 50 years ago in Bassett, Wis. The company is a critical supplier of wheels to individual sports enthusiasts as well as NASCAR – resulting in multiple expansions and ultimately the construction of a state-of-the-art manufacturing facility in Burlington, Wis.
“The ZERO Loan Program gave Bassett Racing Wheels a push financially in the right direction,” said David Gill, owner of Bassett Racing Wheels.
In Caledonia, MKE Laser Design, a metal design and decor company also utilized the ZERO Loan Program. The company used the loan for its working capital needs.
“The ZERO Loan Program’s terms and conditions were really attractive,” said Cory Carlson, co-owner of MKE Laser Design. “The 0% interest and 18-month deferral were helpful for our continued success. With the ups and downs of business, this loan program provided us comfort that we could overcome the ‘downs’ and focus as much as possible on growing our business.”
From the initial grant in July 2020 to June 2022, RCEDC administered funds to 22 local businesses. RCEDC is grateful for the trust from local businesses and to the US EDA for providing funds to create the ZERO Loan Program.
RCEDC’s finance team, Business Lending Partners (BLP), administers several other low-interest commercial loan programs available specifically to businesses in Racine County as well as programs available throughout Wisconsin.
For more information about all available financial assistance, please contact one of BLP’s finance professionals.