By Ramona du Houx

January 14, 2010

Recovery Act funding will make it possible for a southern Maine small business and a midcoast non-profit to access over $4 million in loans that had been unavailable to them in this tight credit market, according to Congresswoman Chellie Pingree. The loans, through the USDA Rural Development’s Business and Industry Guaranteed Loan Program, will allow a business owner in Scarborough to follow through on a construction project and a non-profit marine education center in Boothbay to get financing for its operation in Maine.

“Small business owners tell me one of the biggest challenges they face right now is access to capital,” said Pingree. “These loan guarantees from the stimulus program are helping businesses that otherwise might not be able to get financing.”

Ron Blanchard of South Portland owns Running Hill Self Storage in Scarborough. He had plans, permits and financing set to build a new complex when the credit crisis struck and he lost his financing.

“If it wasn’t for this USDA Rural Development program the project wouldn’t have happened,” said Blanchard. “I would be deep in my investment and the land would be sitting there with nothing on it.”

Blanchard says about 60 people will be employed during construction of a new complex, thanks to $2.2 million in financing from Northeast Bank, guaranteed by the Business and Industry Guaranteed Loan Program through the Recovery Act.

Ocean Classroom is a non-profit educational organization that owns three vessels—the Westward, the Harvey Gamage and the Spirit of Massachusetts. Recently, Ocean Classroom moved its operation to Boothbay from Rhode Island and executive director Peter Neil said they were able to get $2.2 million in financing through a Maine-based bank—Camden National—because of the loan guarantees provided by the Recovery Act funding. Neil says the financing will help them preserve jobs and expand their program in Maine.

USDA Rural Development State Director Virginia Manuel said, “This important announcement of investments through the American Recovery and Reinvestment Act represents an opportunity that would not be possible without stimulus funds. I am so pleased USDA Rural Development, in partnership with local lenders, was able to assist these two Maine organizations in obtaining capital that will lead to job creation and economic growth in Maine.”