Stephanie Gonzales, SECED Executive Director, highlighted several of the funding programs available to qualified residents, homeowners and businesses in the Southeast Colorado Enterprise Development district during a recent Prowers County Commissioners meeting.
Gonzales remarked that 2016 was a fairly average year for interest in the funding programs. “Our Operating Housing Rehabilitation program had five customers, which did fall under our expectations,” she stated. She added that some of the applicants may feel a little overwhelmed by some of the required paperwork, but SECED will help and offer advice if they decide to go through the process of upgrading a home. “Funding is available in our service area which includes, Baca, Prowers, Kiowa, Bent and Crowley Counties,” she explained and said the funding can be used for repairs such as sagging floors, a bad roof or broken windows, for example. The refinancing program requires at least $1,000 work of rehabilitation work on the home and can benefit customers who have high interest rates on their mortgages. Gonzales told the commissioners a home replacement program provides funds up to $24,999 for a replacement home, usually a modular-type unit.
Commissioner Ron Cook expressed interest in any available financing for putting a home on a site which had a house or building demolished as it had become derelict. He said the City of Lamar has been conducting searches on liens on such properties and when they clear, the empty houses are demolished, leaving a vacant lot. Gonzales said that type of plan could qualify for refinancing a home through rural development, but SECED cannot initiate a mortgage on such a plan. “We can offer some funding for electrical or plumbing, but an applicant has to be qualified through rural development to purchase and locate a house on a lot of that nature,” she explained.
The SECED director said there were nine new businesses and two modifications in the region for the past year that took advantage of the business loan funding program. “This can help fund a project that requires the purchase of equipment for a business, working capital, start-up situation, furniture or the purchase of real estate, for example. The funds wouldn’t be used for building construction, but one of the qualifications for this type of loan is creation or retention of jobs and at least 51% of the employees must be in a low to moderate income level.”
The building façade program is still available for owners who want to upgrade the front stores or businesses along Main Street. Gonzales said she and Angie Cue, Lamar’s Community Development Director, discuss the program which allows up to $10,000 for a zero percent interest loan over three years for painting, new windows or doors or improving the general appearance of the storefront.
She expects more use to be made of the vehicle electric charger station which is located at the Lamar Chamber of Commerce parking lot. “We have seen a lot of use from the Garden City, KS area and we intend to do more advertising to let area drivers know about its existence,” she stated. The unit, located at the end of the northeast parking area, can accommodate two vehicles at the same time and offers universal hook-ups. Outlets are available in Lamar, Eads, Springfield and Las Animas.
By Russ Baldwin
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