Money matters Featured

9:45am EDT July 22, 2002

Technology has changed the way business is conducted. What is cutting edge one day is obsolete the next.

This is evidenced by $48 billion in computer hardware sales in the United States in 1998 alone, according to PC Data. The boom in computers and technology has led to increased financing needs for local tech firms.

That’s where Columbus Countywide Development Corp., a nonprofit small business lender, can help.

Randy Wilcox, owner of SARCOM Inc., bought a new building for his growing computer products and services company with only a 10 percent down payment by using the U.S. Small Business Administration 504 Loan Program through Columbus Countywide. The SBA 504 loan program offers financing to healthy, growing, small businesses for land, buildings, machinery or equipment.

SARCOM worked with Delaware County Bank to secure its loan. The local bank finances 50 percent of the total loan amount, the business owner contributes 10 percent and Columbus Countywide finances the remaining 40 percent.

Another option for qualifying business owners is to finance technology through the SBA’s Pre-Qualified Loan Program. Columbus Countywide helps businesses acquire a loan guarantee from the SBA as an initial step in the financing process. Owners can then use this guarantee to obtain a traditional bank loan.

This program targets rural, women-, minority- and veteran-owned businesses and exporters, and helps businesses that lack collateral or a lengthy credit history finance a loan. Owners put up between 10 percent and 30 percent of the total loan amount as a down payment, depending on their bank’s requirements.

Columbus Countywide borrowers Kalyan Viswanathan and Forz Eledath, owners of Technology Advantage of Northwest Columbus, took advantage of this program to purchase equipment and to provide working capital for their IT computer consulting service business. They secured their pre-qualified loan through Huntington National Bank.

Other business owners face the challenge of keeping up with technological advances without going broke. As owners of Coyne Printing in Mount Vernon, Bob and Alice Coyne and their son, Kevin, used the Ohio 166 Loan Program to purchase a large die cutting press with a 10 percent down payment.

They were able to use this press, 50 percent of which was financed through Park National Bank, to expand their commercial printing and finishing business by adding a new product line. Columbus Countywide used state dollars to finance the other 40 percent of the loan.

The Ohio 166 program focuses primarily on helping manufacturing businesses grow by financing land, buildings, machinery and equipment.

Since 1981, Columbus Countywide has helped more than 600 small businesses obtain financing. It has approved more than $160 million in loans, which created more than 9,000 jobs and stimulated more than $350 million in new investments in the 13 counties Columbus Countywide serves.

For details on Columbus Countywide’s loan programs, visit www.ccdcorp.org or call 645-6171 in Franklin County or (888) 756-2232 toll-free from elsewhere.

Mark Barbash is executive director of Columbus Countywide Development Corp.