Small business program a solid, progressive move

First Posted: 4/7/2009

The Surry County Board of Commissioners voted Monday to support establishing a Small Business Enhancement Program, seeding it with $250,000 of county money over a five-year period.
Hopefully, area banks that are members of the Economic Development Partnership would match some of that money, as well as other members of the EDP, to build a larger fund.
The money would then be used to help start-up businesses, or help those already in existence grow.
We think this is an excellent idea, and shows vision and leadership.
Yes, this would be using county taxpayer money to lend to private businesses, and any time youre lending to start-up operations there is more risk involved. Then again, putting out money in the form of economic incentives is risky, too. If a new firm moves to town, then ends up closing shop after a year or two, theres little the local government can do to recoup some, or any, of its incentives.
Yet we encourage sound, reasonable financial incentives to draw new business to the area, and we doubly encourage such investments in small start-ups from our own community.
As a bonus these are not grants or incentives, they are loans, to be repaid, with interest, thus the fund would presumabley grow over time with those repayments.
Attracting new businesses, whether the bring 20 or 200 new jobs, is a vital part of a local governing board. Just as much emphasis should be placed on developing homegrown enterprises, whether those be start-ups or expansions of existing firms.
The boards action goes a long way toward doing just that.

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