Kingsford chooses regional option for business loan fund


News Editor

KINGSFORD – Kingsford is turning over administration of its business revolving loan fund to a regional entity.

The Michigan Economic Development Corporation (MEDC), which oversees distribution of federal Community Development Block Grant (CDBG) funds for such loans, is promoting a regional concept to help small businesses secure aid.

Under a resolution approved Monday by Kingsford’s city council, new loans will be administered through Northern Initiatives, a community development financial institution based in Marquette. Under the regional plan, the city will be represented on a loan approval committee.

City Manager Tony Edlebeck explained that Northern Initiatives has more expertise in seeing that loan applications meet requirements for standards such as job creation, leverage ratios and financial viability.

Mayor Dennis Baldinelli pointed out that the city has $487,000 in its current fund that will remain dedicated to Kingsford projects only. Payments on new loans, however, will go to a regional fund, which may then be used to assist projects from across the Upper Peninsula, including Kingsford.

According to the MEDC, the revolving loan program will lend to small businesses that are unable to secure competitive financing traditionally, but that meet the national objectives of the CDGB program.

It has been a number of years since a business has used the city’s loan program, Edlebeck noted, and a regional fund could offer a chance for financing a major endeavor.

In other action Monday, the Kingsford council:

– Heard Edlebeck report that 100 antlerless permits have been approved by the Michigan Department of Natural Resources for another archery deer hunt in the city. The hunt is restricted to property owners, and their authorized guests, who own seven acres or more of contiguous property and who register with the city. Hunters interested in participating may obtain an application at the city clerk’s office. The hunt is from Oct. 1 through Jan. 1.

– During public comment, heard former Mayor Paul Novara criticize council member Brian Smeester’s letter published Sept. 9 in The Daily News. Novara said the letter, which supports forming an Iron Mountain-Kingsford Public Safety Authority, was not in the best interests of the city. Novara also said it misrepresents his position on potentially forming such an authority. Novara said Smeester never contacted him to confirm his position before publicizing it. Smeester apologized, saying he had thought Novara was in favor of such a concept.

– Heard Baldinelli and council members Michael Flaminio and Cynthia Miller also criticize Smeester’s letter. By signing it as a councilman, they said, Smeester is inappropriately implying council support for his individual views. Miller said a number of people are listed in the letter who should be left to speak themselves, and not have words put in their mouths by Smeester.

– Heard Smeester say he has grave concerns about the city’s financial future while adding, “I do respect everybody here.”

– Accepted, with regret, the resignation of Bruce LeBlanc from the city’s Civil Service Commission and endorsed Baldinelli’s appointment of Jerome Palmcook to fill the vacancy. Palmcook is a former Kingsford Public Safety captain.

– Authorized Edlebeck to hire an administrative assistant/accounts payable clerk to fill a vacancy being created by a resignation.

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