>Darke County Loan Program “Re-Opens” for Business

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A valuable county tool for economic development is officially back in use as the Darke County Revolving Loan (RLF) Program issued its first low-interest loan in more than 3 years to JAFE Decorating in Greenville. The closing for JAFE’s $112,500 loan (issued at a 2 percent interest rate over 7 years) was held on Friday, Dec 2. The company will use the money to purchase a new piece of equipment that will help create 6-10 new jobs, bringing JAFE’s employment to 40 by the end of 2010.

“This was an opportunity to help a local company that we couldn’t miss,” stated Commissioner Diane Delaplane. “JAFE is an established business with a great reputation seeking to create new opportunity for itself, as well as jobs in the community, through this purchase. They were the perfect RLF candidate.”

The loan covered half the costs of a fully automated robotic spray line for JAFE with the remainder of the new piece of equipment being financed by Second National Bank. Commissioner Mike Rhoades said that the 50/50 partnership with a banking institution is a requirement for county RLF program approval.

According to Randy O’Dell, who purchased JAFE earlier this year with his wife Lisa, the new line opens up significant opportunity for a small business to expand in Darke County.

“This line will be one-third the size of our current automated spray line and will allow us to spray smaller volumes while being able to spray multiple colors at the same time,” explained O’Dell. “This will increase our capacity and allow us more flexibility to continue growing the company that Lloyd built.

The O’Dell’s purchased JAFE on Sept. 1 following the passing this year of previous owner, Lloyd Williams. JAFE Decorating is a leading producer of specialty colored glass and was founded by Williams in 1978.

Darke County officials say that the RLF has been issued only twice ever: to Tigereye Design in Aug. of 2007 and to Masters Industries in Aug of 2001. According to Economic Development Director Marc Saluk, JAFE’s loan is hopefully the first of many more over the coming years.

“The program is an incredible tool that we need to make more companies aware of,” said Saluk, whose office is tasked with marketing the program. “The funds come through the state and exist to foster growth and create jobs. Statewide, it’s first-come, first-serve so we will do our best to put the funds in play here in Darke County.”

According to Saluk, the county can request up to $500,000 a year for the local RLF. If and when the money is fully dispersed, more can be applied for through the state so long as Ohio has funds remaining in the program for the year the request is made.

Saluk said that he teams with Community Development Coordinator Jeff Marshall, who administers the program, to bring candidates to the county. A recently appointed loan review board then makes a recommendation for approval to the board of commissioners, who have the final say.

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