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Rotarians learn about NC STEP program

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The Elizabethtown Rotary Club met on Wednesday at Cape Fear Vineyard and Winery and heard from Amanda Young, who serves as Director of Entrepreneurship with the North Carolina Rural Economic Development Center.

Young is working with the town of Elizabethtown to develop a program to promote and build small businesses through the North Carolina Small Town Economic Prosperity program also known as NC STEP.  She said that her staff were approached by the Rural Center to go in and help Elizabethtown to maximize business development.

She said she is working with a group made up of local business owners, and town staff to begin the  process of “laying the ground work” to help Elizabethtown build a support network for entrepreneurs and small businesses.

“We have been going out and interviewing businesses and entrepreneurs to figure out what the needs are,” said Young.  She said the  idea  is to learn exactly what the businesses feel they need to grow as well as learning what types of businesses are located in Elizabethtown.

Young said the goal is to make this  project into a sustainable one so it will continue to grow and function after her role with the group ends. She said one common theme that her staff have heard is the town staff wants to establish  a revolving loan fund.

“The golden carrot was to establish a revolving loan fund,” said Young. She explained that a credit committee was established for Elizabethtown. Young said the way the credit committee functions. She said that for example, a small business can apply to the credit committee for a micro loan. Once the application is received, the Rural Center staff will be assisting Elizabethtown’s credit committee  with compiling all of the necessary documentation and calculating payments, etc. She said loan amounts will  range from $500 to $25,000.

Young explained that once the loan packages are assembled (completed documentation), Rural Center staff will then give the packet to the Elizabethtown credit committee for its approval/denial.