A zero-interest loan program has acted as a tremendous benefit to McPherson County for several years. Without it, many businesses would not have been able to open their doors — 39 to be exact.

The McPherson County Entrepreneurship Community loan program was created in 2010 through the Kansas Center for Entrepreneurship Tax Credit Program and NetWork Kansas. The program is administered by the McPherson Chamber of Commerce for any businesses starting up or expanding in McPherson County.

“Not only has the program benefited by providing necessary services or products to our community and county, they have improved the property in which the business is located,” said Jennifer Burch executive director of the chamber. “The sale of products and services as well as the improvements made by building increases the tax base. A new business also pays for utilities and business-to-business services. In addition, the businesses creates new jobs. There is a huge trickle-down effect that happens when a business opens their doors.”

Most recently, Dacus Auto Body and Collision Repair received $75,000 to assist in their move to McPherson.

Other recipients include Brooklyn & Co., Mattress Haven, Knackies Meats & Sweets, Mower Medic, Stupka Chiropractic & Wellness Center and Little Caesars and more.

The chamber applied to become an E-Community in 2010, which was a lengthy process.

"The initial loan fund awarded was $125,000. Each year we must go through an application process, not nearly as in-depth as the original. The renewal application each year consists of the commitment to sell the tax credits, is the loan program being used and participation in other NetWork Kansas programs," Burch explained.

As an E-Community, the chamber has the access to loan funds that are raised by the sale of tax credits. The E-Community program is not a direct loan. Burch explained they do not compete with banks, but instead, partner with them in order to fill the gap in financing a start-up or expansion.

The funds are used for various expenses a business may carry or to start expansions.

With the help of the loan, businesses have opened, provided jobs and services along with filling spaces in the community.

"Since 2011, a total of $1,305,045 has been loaned toward projects of $7,650,000, creating 263 jobs," she explained.

For more information, about E-Community Loans, call the McPherson Chamber of Commerce at 620-241-3303 or visit their website at http://.mcphersonchamber.org/

Contact Brooke Haas by email at bhaas@mcphersonsentinel.com or follow her on Twitter @ MacSentinel.