When Cody Willenborg started CW Motorsports in December 2011, he took a larger risk than most fledgling businessmen might be willing to take.
“I was all by myself,” Willenborg said. “I sold almost everything I owned to start the business.”
From a one-man operation in a 2,000-square-foot shop, CW Motorsports has grown into a four-man operation in a 9,300-square foot building at 111 N. Henrietta St. in Effingham. On Monday, the Effingham County Board took action that Willenborg hopes will enable him to grow the business even more.
The board unanimously agreed to loan Willenborg $30,000 through the county’s new revolving loan program. Willenborg said the loan will enable him to grow the business in a variety of ways.
“This will allow us to buy more equipment and stocking inventory, as well as help with our cash flow,” he said.
Willenborg said he also plans to hire a parts employee, as well as another shop employee.
The county received seed money from the U.S. Department of Agriculture’s Rural Development branch to start the loan program. Economic Development Committee Chairman David Campbell said the committee is glad to grant its first loan.
“We’re very excited,” Campbell said, adding the committee worked with Willenborg for more than two months to finalize the deal.
“I couldn’t have done it without the committee I have,” Campbell said. Other committee members include County Board members Jeff Simpson and Rob Arnold, Effingham City Economic Development Director Todd Hull, Altamont Mayor Larry Taylor, Jane Reinheimer and Ed Hoopingarner.
“Everybody on the committee brought a different point of view to the proposal,” Campbell said. “We all did a lot of hard work to get this first loan in place.”
Willenborg, a 2007 graduate of Teutopolis High School, graduated at the top of his class from Motorcycle Mechanics Institute in Orlando, Fla. Upon returning to Illinois, he spent several years at Weber Bros. Honda in Teutopolis before striking out on his own.
In other action Monday, the board agreed to spend no more than $136,000 in an engineering agreement with Milano & Grunloh for the second segment of the West Evergreen Avenue extension. County Engineer Greg Koester said the federal government will fund 80 percent of the cost for that phase of the project.
The segment will run from Nazarene Church Road to Lake Sara Road, a distance of about one mile. The segment from Outer Belt West to Nazarene Church Road is currently under construction and is expected to be finished sometime this year.
Koester said bids for the second segment will likely be taken this coming winter, with construction likely to begin next year.
Also Monday, the board voted 8-1 to extend a maintenance agreement with Effingham County Cultural Center and Museum Association through July 15, 2015. The board initially agreed to maintain the old county courthouse while volunteers worked to convert it into a museum. Tax & Finance Committee Chairman Arnold said the county spends about $8,000 per year to maintain the building and pay the utilities.
Arnold praised museum volunteers for their diligence over the past few years.
“They are making great progress,” he said.
Board member Joe Thoele cast the only vote against the agreement. While Thoele said he’d like to see the museum succeed, he believes the museum group should be absorbing its own maintenance and utility costs.
“I don’t believe we should be using taxpayer money for this,” Thoele said.
Also Monday, the board approved the name, mission and slogan for Effingham County Public Transit, as well as an application for a reverse commute program and revised memorandum of understanding with the Illinois Department of Transportation.
The board also agreed to appoint David Probst to the Teutopolis Fire Protection District Board, Steven Rudolphi to the Watson Fire Protection District Board and Gary Horn to the Dieterich Community Fire Protection District Board.
Also Monday, the board passed a resolution honoring the Cowden-Herrick/Beecher City girls basketball team for its recent fourth-place finish in the Class 1A state tournament, as well as a proclamation declaring April 1 through 7 CASA (Court-Appointed Special Advocates) of Effingham County Week.
Board members also received a treat of their own when the 4-H Youth Ambassadors presented each board member with a plate of cookies for their support of 4-H.