Advisory board discus RLP loan applications

Norma Lansing, a newly appointed member of the Effingham County Economic Development Advisory Board, listens to Board Vice Chairman Heather Mumma during a regular meeting Tuesday afternoon.

Discussions are underway among members of the Effingham County Economic Development Advisory Board about possible revisions to the requirements necessary to receive a loan from the Revolving Loan Fund program.

Board Chairman David Campbell said he wanted to open a discussion of whether or not to add a credit report clause into the application for those wanting to secure a loan from the RLF program.

“A credit report would be required with the application and cost to obtain the report would be paid for by the applicant,” Campbell said. “The report should be from one of the three major credit report agencies.”

Board Vice Chairman Heather Mumma was concerned about how the credit report is interpreted.

“If you have a 500 credit score because your wife has cancer that is a whole lot different,” Mumma said. “I think we should review it case by case.”

The newest member of the advisory board, Norma Lansing, said that most credit score companies let people have one free credit report every year.

“So, it’s not going to necessarily going to cost them anything to do that,” Lansing said.

Board Member Larry Taylor had another opinion.

“I don’t object to it (requiring a credit report), but I think it’s going to limit the number of people that apply for a loan,” Taylor said. “I think it’s going to scare some people off.”

“The reason it would scare them off is that they don’t have good credit,” Mumma said.

“No, that’s not the only reason,” Taylor replied. “People don’t like paperwork and they don’t like government paperwork even more. All of this could be overwhelming for the common person. These aren’t big corporations coming in here to get loans.”

Advisory Board Member Ed Hoopingarner agreed with Taylor.

“I’m not against it, but I think it will turn some people away,” Hoopingarner said.

Mumma said the paperwork people must fill out to qualify for the RLF loan asks applicants the same question several times.

“It’s a good application and it has worked good so far,” Taylor said.

Board Member Elizabeth Huston suggested asking those who received the loan in the past what there opinion would be on the credit check idea.

“I don’t think there is anything wrong with asking for some assurance that the money they are getting is not going to be wasted,” Lansing said. “Whether it’s a credit rating or just a (credit) score.”

“Whatever we do we have got to be consistent across the board,” she said. “No matter if it’s a $5,000 $15,000 or $20,000 loan.”

Campbell made the recommendation to the advisory board members to review the Revolving Loan Application and continue discussions as to whether or not make changes to the documentation wordage and application process during their August meeting.

Meanwhile, Economic Advisory Board Member and City of Effingham Economic Development Director Todd Hull gave the advisory board members a review of new businesses around Effingham in his job retention report.

Hull said the former Hodgson’s Mill log cabin style mercantile location at 1001 Ford Avenue was sold and is now the future home of Outlaw Steakhouse and Saloon. Hull said he did not have a definite timetable on when the restaurant would opening its doors to the public.

He said Flex-N-Gate purchased the World Color Press building that was more recently used by Pinnacle Foods. The building was vacated after the construction of a new warehouse facility in St. Elmo.

“There is a lot of work that needs to be done to the building before they can get it where they want it. They are rehabbing the building,” Hull said. “I think it will be a year before they are in production.”

He said Flex-N-Gate is hiring around 50 people at first until they go to full production when they plan to increase that number to 300 employees.

“The most frequent question I get asked is what about Meijer’s,” Campell said.

“It’s still on the books. COVID slowed them down,” Hull said. “Everything got pushed back another year.”

Hull said it would take about 12-18 months to get the store open after breaking ground for construction of the building, depending upon the weather and cost of materials.

Charles Mills can be reached at charles.mills@effinghamdailynews.com or by phone at 217-347-7151 ext. 126.

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Charles Mills is reporter and videographer for the Effingham Daily News. A 1983 graduate of Southern Illinois University, Carbondale, he worked as senior video editor for a Nashville television station. He is a native of Vandalia.