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New small-business incentive
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[AUG. 6, 2005]  SPRINGFIELD -- In an aggressive move to help small businesses in rural communities throughout Illinois gain access to critical capital, Gov. Rod R. Blagojevich signed legislation Aug. 1 creating an innovative rural business loan program. By tapping into this new program, small businesses will be able to make key improvements to their infrastructure, allowing them to modernize their operations and increase their competitiveness. The loan program is expected to make a major impact in downstate communities, where it should help create and retain hundreds of jobs.

"Small businesses in Illinois who want to expand or modernize their operations should never be stopped solely due to a lack of access to capital," Blagojevich said. "By establishing this micro-loan program, we are increasing the availability of capital for small businesses, especially in rural areas where it's often hardest to find, and providing another critical tool to help make their ventures successful. This legislation will ensure that good jobs stay in the community and help strengthen the foundation of small-business activity in rural areas across the state. When we help small business prosper, we help the entire Illinois economy prosper."

This legislation, as spelled out in Senate Bill 15, establishes the Rural Microbusiness Loan Program. Under the program, the Illinois Department of Commerce and Economic Opportunity will partner with banks to issue loans to businesses of five or fewer people that produce, process or market agricultural, forest, cottage and craft products, or who are involved in tourism. The state's participation allows lenders to stretch limited resources and reduce exposure in loans made through this program, permitting banks to approve loans they otherwise could not. Loans are to be used to help create or retain jobs, modernize equipment or facilities, or maintain competitiveness.

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Senate Bill 15 is sponsored by state Sen. John Sullivan, D-Rushville, and state Rep. Bob Flider, D-Mount Zion.

"Small business is the key to fostering a diversified economy that has the capacity to generate more opportunities and prosperity for working families," Sullivan said. "Governor Blagojevich and I believe this legislation is another important effort to act as a better partner to small businesses and ensure they have all the tools they need to make their ventures a success in this global economy."

"Small businesses are at the heart of rural economies throughout central Illinois," Flider said. "Allowing them to obtain loans at a more competitive rate helps them to expand and create more jobs. This program will support local economic engines by focusing on the development of businesses that specialize in central Illinois, including agriculture and tourism."

Senate Bill 15 is effective immediately.

[News release from the governor's office]

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