Panel recommends loan for upgrade to part of downtown

RANTOUL — The Rantoul Revolving Loan Committee voted to recommend a $120,000 Economic Development Administration loan to a local businessman for upgrade work on five downtown properties.

Meanwhile, a $140,000 loan request from a local day care provider who wants to significantly expand her operation was deferred until additional information is provided.

The committee voted to recommend loaning money to Victor Torres Jr. for properties at 107, 109, 111, 113 and 115 N. Garrard Street.
The current or soon-to-be-opened businesses located there are a nail salon at 107, beauty salon at 109, video game store at 111, barber shop at 113 and fish market at 115.

Torres bought the five adjacent buildings for $19,000 using a village microloan in 2011 and continues to pay on that loan with a current balance of $9,800.

He told the committee at a meeting last week that he wants to replace the roof and gutters on all five properties.

Torres said he wants to upgrade the properties for future growth of downtown.

“If we let those buildings deteriorate, then we start seeing (properties) like across the street from us,” Torres said of the former First National Bank building, which the village board must decide whether to renovate or tear down.

Torres said the new businesses that have located on his properties have increased downtown traffic. He said it is difficult to find a parking space in that block as a result.

“This is quite a chunk of that block, so it would significantly improve the look of that area,” Rantoul Economic Development Director Rebecca Motley said.

She said the owner of the fish market has had to delay opening his business due to his wife becoming ill, but he continues to pay the microloan he received from the village.

The property at 111 was formerly operated by a woman who offered various games for children, but it has closed. Torres’ son, Victor III, will move his video game store from Century Boulevard to that address.

Torres also plans to take advantage of the village facade grant program to improve the front of the properties.

The loan, meanwhile, will be paid back over 10 years at 4 percent interest.

The affected businesses have a minimum of seven full-time equivalent jobs. Under terms of the EDA loan program, one job must be created or retained for every $30,000 loaned.

Torres said the ultimate goal is to renovate the second floor of the properties for luxury loft apartments.

Day care loan
Pamela Henricks has requested a $140,000 loan to be paid back at 4 percent interest over 10 years to move her day care from her home on Bel Place to the now-closed Developmental Services Center building on the former Chanute Air Force Base.

Henricks has operated her business — Nana’s Day Care — for 15 years. Her service is available from 7 a.m.-11 p.m. for ages 6 weeks-12 years and serves 20 children.

Most of her client payments are made through the Illinois Department of Human Services childcare subsidy program at $32-$46 a day. Food expenses are also reimbursed by the state.

Motley said Henricks indicated the state has been on time in funding.

In her application, Henricks said her business has grown an average of 20 percent per year and she has a waiting list. She hopes to move her business to the former DSC building with an eye toward eventually serving up to 200 children and employing 14 people — an increase of 11 new jobs from her current employee total.

Her rent would be $2,833 a month. The first three months would be free. Henricks would also apply for a $60,000 bank loan to provide sufficient working capital.

Motley said Henricks has met with Illinois Department of Children and Family Services about any improvements needed at the building.

Henricks was not present at the meeting due to a miscommunication, Motley said. Loan committee members had questions of Henricks that Motley could not answer such as amount of insurance she will carry, whether she has conducted a survey of need for the service, the size of her waiting list and the readiness to move into the building.

The committee deferred a decision on a recommendation until Henricks can be present to answer questions at a future meeting.

Loan scenario
The committee also reviewed outstanding microloans, which are funded through the village’s general fund, and the EDA revolving loan fund, which is federally funded.

The village is accepting loan requests from the revolving loan fund only since the microfund loan fund is currently “fully loaned out,” Motley said.

The 20 loans in that fund had a principal balance of $484,122 as of Dec. 31. There are 10 minority- or woman-owned businesses represented in the current portfolio.

The bulk of those who have microloans continue to make their monthly loan payments, Motley said. A few, however, are not.

They include:

— Debra Austen, whom Motley said bought equipment but never opened a business. She has a balance of $14,241.

— Quenton Hillsman, who operated a barbecue truck, which is out of business. He has a balance of $13,000.

—Denver Miller Sr., who owes $41,058 on property on South Tanner Street that was later sold to Bill Schluter, who sold it to Dale Eaker for the relocated Goodyear Tire Center. The property had been sold for real estate taxes before being purchased by Schluter.

— CCK Hospitality Group, which is three months past due and has a balance of $45,672.

Motley said those accounts are all being turned over to the village attorney in the hope of remediation, with the exception of CCK Hospitality Group because it is an ongoing business working with the village on payment arrangements.

The EDA Revolving Loan Fund has nine outstanding loans, with a principal balance of $723,331. Of those loans, four are to minority- or woman-owned businesses.

One of the loans, to EDDS Inc. totaling $6,121, is to a now-closed business and will be turned over to collection through the village’s attorney.

Loan committee member Denny Long said he doesn’t want the panel to “lose sight that the microloan fund by definition is a risk. The purpose is to allow people to get started (in business),” Long said. “You are going to have (some defaults).”

Motley said the village has had good success since the inception of the lending program and that most borrowers are on time with their payments.

“I do believe that it’s an important thing for the village to at least consider continuing because small businesses generate the most jobs, especially in a town of our size,” Motley said.



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