GLOVERSVILLE - Chris Curro estimates the Mohawk Harvest Cooperative Market would be half the size it is now without the loan it received from the Gloversville Economic Development Corp.
A $30,000 loan paid for the co-op's equipment and inventory, which he said are the major expenses for just about any business.
"It allowed us to grow," Curro said.
Chris Curro, manager of the Mohawk Harvest Cooperative Market, stocks the produce shelves at the co-op in Gloversville on Wednesday. The co-op received a $30,000 loan to buy inventory and equipment for the North Main Street store.
The Leader-Herald/Bill Trojan
The co-op will be open 18 months Jan. 22, and in the past year, Curro said the co-op, which has two additional employees, grew by 40 percent.
That, according to GEDC board member and secretary Wally Hart, is the GEDC's mission: encouraging economic development and employment.
"If that means buying new equipment at one business so they can add jobs or if it means expanding a building or buying a building that's going to provide employment," Hart said. "Our real goal is to help provide the funds that will provide jobs."
The GEDC has been in business for more than 30 years, since its August 1980 incorporation as the Promote Gloversville Development Corp. The group is still called the Promote Gloversville Development Corp., but added on its license that it does business as the GEDC.
The current GEDC board consists of 10 members, including a president - Patricia Beck, publisher of The Leader-Herald, and a vice president, Mark Kilmer. Hart, also the president/chief executive officer of the Fulton County Regional Chamber of Commerce & Industry, serves as the secretary. Other board members include Cindy Galpin, Scott Hohenforst, Susan Casey, Mike Teetz, Rich Lee and Nancy Luey. Gloversville Mayor Dayton King serves as the city representative, a non-voting member.
The GEDC does not have a paid staff and has a management agreement with the Crossroads Incubator Corp., the real estate subsidiary of the Fulton County EDC, to administer the loan fund, collect rents and manage the Argersinger building, which is owned by the GEDC.
The building is home to the Fulton County Alcoholism agency, Community Heritage, St. Mary's Hospital, Parson's Child & Family and Literacy Volunteers. It was a previous home to the Fulton-Montgomery Mental Health Association and Hospice before they moved on to purchase their own properties.
According to GEDC officials, the loan pool is not considered a primary source of funding, but rather a "gap" lending source. It can be used to help in the acquisition of real estate and capital equipment.
"We're not trying to box out banks," Hart said. "We're not trying to keep banks from giving good loans and having good customers. But if a bank says, 'you need $75,000, we'll give you $50,000 because we don't want to extend ourselves further than that,' then you come to us and say, 'they gave us 50, but still need an additional $25,000. Will you do that?'"
Businesses don't get a positive answer just because they ask for a loan. He said there is a process that includes a full application and financial statements. They must show they are making a profit or that they have potential to turn a profit before an approval is granted.
"We have a financial responsibility to the money we're lending," Hart said.
The GEDC has about 12 loans on the books now with 10 either current or about to be paid off, and one in collection.
A loan that didn't work out is a factor in why the GEDC is buying the Schine Building on North Main Street.
The GEDC loaned $70,000 to the previous owners of the building, also known as Memorial Hall. The loan had gone into default. By purchasing the building, the GEDC hopes to recoup the funds previously invested in the structure, the organization has said.
The GEDC placed a $48,000 bid at auction for the property, which is between the Glove Theatre museum and NBT?Bank on North Main Street.
"With Memorial Hall at the time the loan was made, we thought it was the right thing to do to help the business succeed and help the owners go into a business and buy a building," Hart said. "We thought that was an important thing to do. It was one of those that just didn't work."
The GEDC expected to take possession of the building before Dec. 31, but Hart said that hasn't happened because the title wasn't cleared yet.
"We wanted to have clear title because if for some reason we're able to sell the building - and we do have some people interested in purchasing it - we need to have clear title to pass it along to the new owners."
Hart said if the GEDC does not sell the building, it will renovate it to prepare it for more tenants. The building already has a couple of tenants.
The Mohawk Harvest co-op has expressed an interest in possibly moving from its site at 51 N. Main St. into larger space in the Schine building, Beck said.
GEDC officials have said the Schine building property will remain on the property tax rolls.
John Antonucci, owner of Antonucci's Produce and Seafood on South Main Street, said he took out a loan from the GEDC to expand one of the back buildings on his complex about five or six years ago. Recently, Antonucci's expanded into the seafood market.
King said it is a benefit any time a business can expand. He said he would like to see more businesses coming in from out of the area.
"My hope is to have a contest or incentive to have potential business owners - someone who has an idea and not a lot of money - to help get them here," he said.
Mike Zummo is the business editor. He can be reached at email@example.com.