Thursday, April 2, 2015

MD of Pincher Creek tables Community Futures decision pending further information

Chris Davis

Beaver Mines Store proprietor Jacques Thouin appeared before council for the MD of Pincher Creek No. 9 as a delegation on March 10 to ask council to consider joining the Community Futures business improvement loan program. Community Futures Alberta Southwest Manager Tony Walker also spoke to council at that time to explain the program. At their March 24 meeting council decided to table the proposition of signing a Memorandum of Understanding (MoU) with Community Futures pending further information.

During discussions at the March 24 meeting councillor Fred Schoening expressed concerns about the Prime plus 3% interest rate that would be applied to the loans. Schoening indicated that he was in principle behind the idea of signing a MoU with Community Futures but he had some concerns. "I think the program has got some real merit," he said.  "I think that anything that we can do to help a small business is something we should look at very seriously.  In the context of this we're talking about one business but in fact it opens the door to a multitude of people coming forth and asking for the MD to cover the interest rates on any number of loans up to ten thousand dollars.  My first concern is that I believe that the interest rates set out in this are quite high, and that bothers me somewhat, that these small businesses probably on their own merit shouldn't probably be able to borrow money at a lower interest rate than, I think what's stated in here, is currently 6%, and that seems awfully high to me."

Referring to the documents supplied by Community Futures that indicates they have $2.4 million available to lend, Schoening said it was unclear how much of that total fund might be available to businesses in the MD. "The interest on high amounts of money could be quite substantial."  He later suggested council set a limit on the number of loans that could be approved annually, on a first come first served basis, to regulate the MD's financial commitment to the program.

Reeve Brian Hammond said he was concerned about the range of small businesses in the MD, given that the MD doesn't require a business licence from many of them, querying whether the loan plan would really address or assist many of those business owners. He also indicated that he would like to hear feedback from the public before proceeding, and that he would like council to have another chance to discuss the proposition with Community Futures now that council has had a chance to discuss the proposal among themselves. Councillor Garry Marchuk withdrew his original motion to approve signing the MoU and council tabled the matter pending further information and a possible further meeting with Community Futures.

Eligible improvements for the Community Futures business improvement loan program program (in municipalities where a MoU currently exists):
  • Signage  for the business
  • Repair or replacement of storefront windows and doors
  • Exterior lighting of the building and signage
  • Removal and disposal of broken signage and fixtures
  • Installation  and design of awnings and signs
  • New storefront window openings and new doorways
  • Interior window display areas and lighting
  • Removal of exterior materials that cover architectural details
  • New architectural details such as entryway features and cornices
  • Signs that are uniquely designed to integrate into building architecture
  • Creation of new retail bays in an existing building
  • Addition of patio areas and permanent landscaping elements
  • Removal of barriers to access for people with disabilities and mobility challenges
  • Interior painting
  • Interior flooring (carpet, laminate, tile, hardwood)
  • Shelving (removable)
  • Interior counters and display cases
  • Interior light fixtures
Related story:
Business owner asks for MD of Pincher Creek participation in Community Futures business improvement loan program

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