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Seeing economic upswing, city may expand loan fund

April 8, 2014

After sinking $200,000 into a loan fund for businesses in 2011, city officials are looking to renew the partnership with Waukesha County for another three years and possibly expand the fund by $100,000 after reporting success in bringing businesses to the city.

"We feel the program's been going very well and helped companies make the decision to buy buildings or expand operations in Brookfield and bring jobs to the community and new tax base," Economic Development Coordinator Tim Casey said.

He said he is seeing demand for the loan program grow with economic recovery. There is more interest in development now than he's seen in the last three or four years.

"There's been a surge of activity lately," he said. "We have people buying vacant buildings and moving in. There's more confidence now that the economy is not likely to take another downturn soon."

Laacke & Joys is one example, announcing last month its plans to move its manufacturing operation to a building at 3205 N. 124th St., which has been partially vacant for several years. The company is one of three that have already been approved for loans through the partnership.

There is $71,000 left in the loan fund, and two prospects are on the horizon for $30,000 loans.

City Finance Director Robert Scott said the city's economic development fund has about $400,000 that has not been earmarked, which the Common Council could choose to allocate to the loan fund, operated in partnership with the county's Economic Development Corp.

"Given the success of the program so far, if we can provide that little extra oomph for businesses, why shouldn't we do that?" Scott said, noting that the 2 to 3 percent interest rate on the loans is better than the city could get from keeping the money in the bank.

Fund expansion would need Economic Development Committee, Finance Committee and Common Council approval.

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