McHenry County Board Finance and Audit Committee Chairman Scott Breeden was the main speaker for the McHenry County Business Committee meeting Wednesday night.
He told of the $400,000 in the county till that could be loaned to businesses that didn’t make the cut for a bank loan.
“We pick up where the banks don’t feel comfortable,” the Lakewood resident said.
The $400,000 is part of a $700,000 fund, Breeden explained. He said it wasn’t for real estate, but could be used for equipment or expansion.
And he noted that the interest rates were better than the County could earn by putting the money into Certificates of Deposit.
He also explained that he was about to move his rapidly growing company (fifteen percent of his sales are in China) from California to McHenry County.
He’s getting no help from the State, coming, instead, so he can be near his grandchildren.
He’s looking for local suppliers for his product, which activates gates and lights when vehicles drive across it.
Asked how a small business owner might know about the loan fund and Breeden said that the County Board had “tried through the Economic Development Commission.”
Using his own firm as an example, Breeden said that “to grow a business from profits is almost impossible.”
He told of paying his vendors in thirty days, but his purchasers wanting to pay in ninety days. That caused cash flow problems, especially with a rapidly growing company.
Moving from the personal to the governmental, Breeden said that this year County department heads would be told how much they have to spend next year by May.
Breeden’s goal is to get elected officials to say, “This is what you’ve got to work with” early on, instead of at the last minute.
That, he said, would give citizens six months to weigh in.
Property taxes consist of about one-third of McHenry County’s revenue.
“If we could get the school boards to do the same thing,” he mused.
Cary Mayor Tom Kierna was an active participant in the business development and retention discussion.
He suggested that relaxing some of the fees might be one way.
He related an experience of a company planning to build a factory in Cary that had mistakenly included the cost of machinery. When the owner saw a permit fee of $50,000, Kierna said, he was glad that he came to talk to him. The fee was adjusted downward to reflect the actual cost of the building.
“First, we have to figure out how to change the perception (that McHenry County has a bad business climate).”
“We make the decisions,” Breeden added, “but they are administered by the people we hire. They administer (the ordinances) to the letter of the law, rather than using common sense.”
Kierna cited a Cary inspector who red tagged a braille sign for a bathroom that was two inches too high.
The inspector’s attitude was “Code is code. It’s a guiding light, not the Gospel,” the Village President said.
“We have to change the culture.”
Kierna said the most important part of the meeting was finding out that the County had money to loan small business.
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The McHenry County Business Committee is organized as a Political Action Committee, according to its attorney Dan Regna. Although the members did not give clues as to what candidates they might support for what, there were three announced or potential candidates who attended–for County Board Joe Gottemoller and Jim Schlader, for Sheriff Andy Zinke–plus Cary Mary Tom Kierna.