Economic Development
10:06 am
Wed February 19, 2014

DECD Chief Defends Underwriting of Business Assistance Loans

Catherine Smith.
Catherine Smith.
Credit Chion Wolf / WNPR

The Commissioner of Economic and Community Development has defended her department's record on business assistance loans. Catherine Smith gave evidence before the Commerce Committee, saying 1,114 companies have been helped through DECD programs like Small Business Express.

Smith said currently ten companies are in default of state loans.

Smith said currently ten companies are in default of state loans. The department runs an analysis of any deal over $500,000 to assess its impact on the state economy.

But Smith said even small awards are carefully structured. “Loan terms are negotiated on a one-by-one basis,” she told the committee. “And that is true right down to every Small Business Express package, where one of our managers is in constant communication with the company. And then we always include some type of rights for us for clawbacks or other reversionary tactics if the company fails to perform.”

The department has commitments that 11,817 jobs will be created through its business assistance programs. Smith told the committee she wants to see the state's wider rate of job creation at least double in coming years.