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Economic Development Committee
The Board's Economic Development Committee met March 8 and heard about an effort to start a micro-loan branch in Charlotte.

The Board of County Commissioners' Economic Development Committee met Tuesday, March 8 and heard a presentation from a local group attempting to establish a Charlotte branch of Grameen America, a micro-loan bank. The micro-loan concept is being used successfully all over the world to bring people out of poverty by funding start-ups for entrepreneurs. The micro-loan program proposed for Charlotte needs $2.5 million to open. The organizing group has a commitment from the City of Charlotte for $200,000 and is looking for a similar pledge from Mecklenburg County. Under the program, the bank would loan up to $1,500 to an individual or family to get a small business started. The loans are paid back slowly and those who receive a loan are expected to mentor other small businessmen and women to start other businesses. The payback rate in other cities is 99%. Local organizers say they can help 3,500 families over the next five years if they can get the seed money to start the local bank. Commissioners Cogdell, Bentley and Dunlap voted to recommend the concept to the full board. Funding will be requested during the FY12 County budget process.

The Committee agreed to recommend to the full board a $10,000 sponsorship of the 2011 Annual meeting of the International Economic Development Council in Charlotte in October. The meeting is expected to draw 1,400 people to Charlotte. The City has already committed $10,000.

The Committee will recommend to the full Board a request for a Tax Increment Grant for the Charlotte Mecklenburg Housing Partnership for the redevelopment of Double Oaks. The County investment of $1.3 million will leverage $104 million in housing and commercial investment along the Statesville Avenue Corridor. It creates 300 affordable housing units and provides an important boost to the revitalization of Statesville Avenue. The project is expected to generate a tax return to County of over $3 million over 10 years with no financial risk to the County. The committee recommends that the full Board approve the grant. The matter will be discussed at the March 15 meeting of the Board of County Commissioners.

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