Attendees of an economics club breakfast laughed when David Nikoloff facetiously explained why it's good to forget about county lines.
"People from Lancaster actually cross the river. They do business here," he said.
Nikoloff, president of the Economic Development Co. of Lancaster County and the EDC Finance Corp., recently urged guests at a York County Economic Alliance Economics Club breakfast to take advantage of a new collaboration to help the neighboring counties grow.
"We've got to start thinking like a region," he said.
A recent partnership between the York County Economic Alliance and the EDC Finance Corp. will make it easier for small businesses to find funding, closing a credit gap that has plagued southcentral Pennsylvania for years, Nikoloff said.
Loan program Small Business Administration 504 provides small and medium-sized businesses with long-term, fixed-rate financing that is typically only available to larger businesses. That federal program will now be administered locally, with EDC Finance Corp. serving as the conduit to provide funds.
The alliance is working to share this opportunity with local businesses, according to Kenetha Hansen, vice president of economic development at York County Economic Development Corp.
Federal funding: YCEA already offers opportunities to help local businesses leverage state funding. The SBA program will help leverage federal funding, she said.
"Our mission is focused on creating and retaining jobs. We will bring any tools we can to our York County companies to help facilitate that growth," she said.
The alliance receives hundreds of inquiries a year from businesses trying to fulfill funding needs that range from a couple thousand dollars to $20 million or more, she said.
Some of those businesses have had to be turned away because most state programs won't fund retail and commercial businesses, Hansen said.
But SBA 504 funds those programs, and Nikoloff predicted $50 million will be spent in the region this year. And that help will likely grow to $100 million within the next 10 years, he said.
Projects that benefited: EDC Finance has already funded four York County projects with SBA funds, including Byron Kehr's recent purchase of the historic Roosevelt Tavern on North Penn Street in the city, Nikoloff said.
A borrower usually has to come up with 10 percent of the funding needed, or 20 percent if it's for a start-up business, he said. The SBA program funds 40 percent of a loan, up to $5 million, and a bank provides the rest.
Among advantages to the borrower, the loan comes with a 20-year, fixed-rate term for real estate, or a 10-year, fixed-rate term for machinery and equipment, he said.
Advantages to the lender are largely provided by bonds backed with a federal guarantee, he said.
And there are also advantages to the community, Nikoloff said. The tax base increases, it stimulates other development, and jobs are created, he said.
Included in the terms of the loan is a provision that requires businesses to create or retain one job for every $65,000 borrowed. Manufacturers must create or retain one job for every $100,000 borrowed.
"The businesses of York County will now have more access to the funding they need to grow their businesses and create new opportunities," said Darrell Auterson, CEO of the YCEA.
For more information, call the YCEA at 848-4000.
-- Candy Woodall can also be reached at email@example.com.