Community Concepts loan program seeing renewed interest

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NORWAY — Mitch and Judy Green knew they had the right business, but they knew it was in the wrong location.

Owners of Crazy Horse Racing, a race car fabrication company, the Greens were operating in Andover, and knew they had to be closer to their target clients at Oxford Plains Speedway in Oxford.

A pit stop at Community Concepts Finance Corp. gave their company a whole new future.

CCFC is one of the many arms of Community Concepts, the community-building nonprofit with offices in South Paris and Lewiston. CCFC, which turns 15 years old next year, works with residents who have an idea for a new business or who are struggling with an existing one. If funding is available and an applicant meets the criteria, loans can be accessed ranging from $4,000 to $400,000, with an average loan of $45,000, according to Glen Holmes, director of economic development at CCFC and a former Buckfield town manager.

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Crazy Horse Racing does a lot of its work for racers at Oxford Plains Speedway, installing parts and fabricating cars. Working with CCFC, which is certified by the U.S. Treasury to provide credit and financial services, the Greens were able to get a loan that not only allowed them to move to South Paris, but to create 2,704 square feet of operating space, 224 square feet of new retail space, and purchase a new lift, a compressor and several other pieces of equipment.

“It’s about access when people can’t get it,” Holmes said. “We really try everything in our power to help out anyone who comes in here for assistance.”

Another example is Hill Top Pools and Spas of West Paris, which faced financial challenges in 2009 when the recession pinched many of the business’s clients. With a loan from CCFC, company owners were able to refinance debt and renew vendor lines of credit, allowing them to stay afloat.

“We work closely and long-term with our clients to really help, especially when people stumble,” Holmes said. “If they have a setback of sorts, we’re going to stay working with them as best we can to see them succeed. We also provide introductory business classes for those interested, we have technical assistance, and there is always someone here to help and assist as best we can.”

A loan applicant first sits down with a CCFC loan officer, goes over their idea and is coached on creating a business plan. The applicant is given a checklist outlining the detailed information that must be submitted. Once a loan officer has reviewed all the material, it is presented to a committee, which also studies the application material and then votes on the application.

“Our product is that we help people, and not only do we help people, we help those in need,” Holmes said. “Sixty percent of our assistance goes to low-income funding, so most of our work goes to those who need it the most.”

Although the CCFC has been around since 2001, work has increased in the last three to four years, Holmes said, with officials estimating about $2 million will be loaned out in 2015. In its first year of business, CCFC lent approximately $300,000; during the last 14 years it has lent about $10 million.

Contact CCFC

For more information:

* Contact Community Concepts at 1-800-866-5588 or 743-7716 and at www.wmedc.org/

* Contact

, director of Economic Development, at 739-6545 or 212-0735 and by email at gholmes@community-concepts.org

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