GREEN BAY – Jamie Veeser’s machine shop is in shambles. For a good reason, though.
He just had two large automated machines delivered, adding to his collection in a back room of Northeast Wisconsin Technical College’s business incubator building.
"This is the first machine we purchased," Veeser said, pointing to the gleaming Haas Automation mill. It’s a machine that Veeser has used (and still does) to turn a profitable business in metal machining.
In December of 2012, Veeser applied for a microloan from the Green Bay Area Chamber of Commerce. He used it to start his business, Machine Plus.
"I tried before through the banks on the outside," he said. "Without this program, I would not have started."
Veeser now employs five people and will be adding two more.
"Expanding our capabilities,” said the Luxemburg native, “We're all about doing something new."
Taking the hurdles out of entrepreneurs’ way
A common issue for people wanting to start a business is finding the money to get it going – particularly when banks say no.
The chamber’s Advance Microloan Program has been in place since 2011. Now, there’s more money available for the loan program.
Wednesday, the Wisconsin Economic Development Corporation (WEDC) gave the program a $100,000 grant from taxpayer dollars; area banks matched with another $100,000.
Chamber leaders say the money raises the loan program's funds to about $1 million.
"Often, these people are very motivated, they are highly energetic," said Laura Gille, the director of the Advance Microloan Program.
The program offers loans that range between $5,000 and $100,000.
"The only difference between us and a bank is we can make loans that banks can't make," Gille said.
That's not to say getting a loan is a cakewalk.
Requirements call for the business to be for-profit and located in the area.
"We ask them to do exactly the same things they would do if they applied for banks, so they have to have a business plan, they have to have detailed financial projections," said Gille.
And the loan has to be paid back.
Since the program started in 2011, Gille says five borrowers have repaid their loans, with two going on to work with banks.
No guarantee of results
WEDC’s secretary and CEO Reed Hall says the grant money for the loan program is like an investment.
"Results are not guaranteed,” said Hall. “But the whole thrust of economic development – you make investments and the return is the loan is paid back, with interest."
And hopefully more companies and job creators like Veeser.