Recognizing growth

It is with great pleasure that I would like to congratulate the 57 Cascade Capital Corp. Business Growth Award winners for 2004. These companies are located within Summit, Medina, Portage, Wayne and Ashland counties.

Based on the Business Growth Awards criteria, this is quite an accomplishment. A company may earn a Business Growth Award by either increasing its sales level by 100 percent or at least $5 million over a five-year period or increasing employee numbers by 50 percent or at least 25 people over the same time frame.

The importance of this growth measures far beyond the actual sales or employee counts. From an economic development perspective, increasing local company sales to other parts of the state, the country and even internationally enriches the local economy.

Receipts and profits generated by growing area companies are positively manifested when these companies purchase local goods and services, invest in additional equipment and facilities and hire new employees. These wealth-creating mechanisms directly lead to the economic growth and stability of the local and regional economies.

The goal of Cascade Capital Corp. is to provide direct financing assistance to small companies poised to grow through investment in new equipment, facilities and human resources. Cascade Capital can finance up to 40 percent of a company’s major fixed asset purchases.

Important advantages of Cascade Capital’s loan programs include below-market fixed interest rates — as low as 3 percent term loans up to 20 years and 10 percent borrower down payment requirements on real estate purchases. The small business borrower’s bank finances the remaining 50 percent of the project.

Cascade Capital’s primary financing program is the SBA 504 Loan Program, and it is certified by the U.S. Small Business Administration to deliver and service this program throughout Ohio, although it focuses on Summit, Medina, Portage, Wayne, Ashland and Holmes counties. Cascade Capital has approved a record number of SBA 504 loans this year, which is in line with the SBA 504 Program’s record number of approvals nationwide.

Cascade Capital also provides the Ohio 166 Regional Loan Program primarily to regional manufacturing, distribution and research and development firms.

Over the past two years, Cascade Capital has participated in funding 52 small company expansion projects totaling more than $76 million. These projects were expected to result in the creation of nearly 700 new jobs for the region within two years of completion.

Finally, I am very pleased to report a large increase in Business Growth Award winners over the course of the past three years. This year’s 57 Business Growth Award winners marks an increase of 28 percent over last year and 90 percent over three years ago.

So, again, congratulations to all the 2004 Business Growth Award winners, and thank you for your key role in contributing to the continuing economic vitality of our region.

Robert Filipiak is executive director of Cascade Capital Corp., an economic development finance company that provides dependable financing options to growing small companies in Greater Akron and Northeastern Ohio since 1983. Reach him at (330) 379-3160.