Loans to spruce up Florence

Oregon Pacific Bank allocates $1 million to a no-fee lending program for businesses and property owners

Ed Russo

The Register-Guard

Apr 26, 2016

FLORENCE — Oregon Pacific Bank on Monday announced a joint program with the Lane Council of Governments to provide loans to improve the appearance of storefronts or buildings in Florence.

The loans, up to a maximum of $50,000, are meant for Florence businesses or property owners to help them pay for a variety of enhancements, bank executives said.

The loans could be used to pay for signs, facades and awning improvements, painting, public art and murals, historical restoration, landscaping, branding and logo design, parking lot repairs, interior design, and window displays.

City officials are working on a streetscape plan called Re-Vision Florence with the state Department of Transportation to improve the look and safety of the Highway 101 and Highway 126 corridors in Florence.

Momentum is building in Florence to spruce up storefronts and properties in the Old Town area, and along Highway 101 from Highway 126 to the Siuslaw River Bridge, bank executives said. “We wanted to find a catalyst to inspire our local business and property owners to take part in the revitalization of our community,” Ron Green, president and chief executive of Oregon Pacific Bank, said in a statement. “There’s definitely an air of excitement in the city of Florence for plans of growth and renewal, and as a local community bank we are proud to be a part of that.”

The Florence-based bank and LCOG, which administers a rural business development fund using money from the U.S. Department of Agriculture, will finance the loans.

Oregon Pacific has allocated $1 million toward the loans, said Mike Webb, a Oregon Pacific Bank vice president and commercial relationship manager for Florence.

The variable interest loans are currently priced at the Wall Street Journal prime rate of 3.5percent. The bank will not charge fees on the loans, Webb said.

Green and the bank’s marketing coordinator, Ellen Huntingdon, presented the loan program to the Florence Urban Renewal Agency on March 23. The agency’s board supported the proposal, the bank said.

Webb said the loans are “an opportunity for people to get on the bandwagon and take advantage of inexpensive money for a project that they may have been putting off for a while,” he said.

In a statement, Joshua Greene, a city councilor and chairman of the city’s urban renewal agency, said people’s first impressions of Florence are important.

“Florence has put into place policies for economic development and public art, both of which are driven by aesthetics,” he said. “The Highway 101 Re-Vision Florence will draw investment and new development. These short-term small business loans offered by a local bank for the express intent of beautifying our community is a big step in realizing this vision.”

Oregon Pacific Bank said the loans cannot be used to refinance existing debt or to pay for operating needs.

This article originally appeared on The Register-Guard

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