The Ashtabula County Port Authority is weighing a $175,000 loan request from Growth Partnership for Ashtabula County.
The authority took up the question during its meeting Friday. Growth Partnership, a county economic development organization, has requested the loan to pay off its line of credit issued through a bank and secured by an individual.
“The entity that secured the line of credit before this has done a great job,” Strayer said. Nevertheless, that entity has requested the authority find another backer for the outstanding balance on the line of credit, which was used to help keep the partnership struggle through a time of high expenses several years ago. Strayer said the partnership is keeping up with payments on operational expenses and its first mortgage, which is about $350,000.
Strayer said the partnership also is talking to a bank about the financing. The Port Authority was pegged as a source of funding because it has the money and there is a movement for the private partnership and public port authority to work together on economic development, “and we reached out to them,” Strayer said.
Executive Director Brian Anderson said there’s nothing written in stone, but confirmed the authority and partnership have held discussions on the loan. Authority members said the loan would be secured with a second mortgage on the property that houses the partnership’s office.
Growth Partnership receives the majority of its funding from private donors, or trustees, who pay $5,000 each annually. This allows the organization to operate under the radar screen of public meeting requirements and therefore keep sensitive economic development discussions out of the public eye. But the group does accept membership by public entities. For example, Ashtabula County commissioners have three memberships and a position on the executive committee.
As a condition of the loan agreement, the port authority is requesting a seat on the executive committee of Growth Partnership. Authority member Richard Selip said the partnership is willing to do that, but the bylaws require the port authority to become a member first. Anderson said the partnership is in the process of revising its bylaws and will probably expand the term from the current one year.