CEO’s Report: HELP Fund offers affordable financing

March 7, 2023

Steady rates, affordable terms help make business dreams reality

Uncertainty shouldn’t dampen the excitement of opening a new business.

When you make the decision to invest in a new venture and serve your community, rising interest rates shouldn’t deter your plan.

The Heartland Economic development Loan Program (HELP) Fund has been a staple of our economic development toolbox for a number of years.

Through a revolving loan fund, we have financed business expansions, start-ups, equipment purchases and infrastructure improvements.

As interest rates continue to rise, the HELP Fund can offer steady rates and favorable terms. We partner with local banks to finance projects for the benefit of the communities we serve.

Revolving loan fund offers unique features

The HELP Fund was established to encourage economic growth in customer communities. By utilizing money from USDA’s Intermediary Relending Program (IRP), we can help finance business ventures, as well as community projects that promote growth.

Financing is available to businesses as well as our customer communities and their economic development corporations.

The IRP awards financing to intermediary lenders, such as Heartland Energy, who re-lend to businesses to improve economic conditions and create jobs in rural communities.

Because it is financed through the IRP at a steady rate, Heartland Energy is able to keep borrowing rates low, even as economic conditions change.

Because the loan fund is revolving, we are able to continuously put the money back to work in our customer communities.

The HELP Fund is not designed to compete with traditional lending institutions. At our core, Heartland Energy is still a power supplier. However, we want to be a partner to help get these ventures off the ground.

Local success stories

A variety of businesses have found success by utilizing the HELP Fund. Starting a business can be challenging, and the HELP Fund is designed to take some of the uncertainty off the backs of entrepreneurs.

One of the unique features of the HELP Fund is that it can only utilized in rural communities.

Rural communities need entrepreneurs. They need local businesses to not only provide necessary services and offerings but to support the community.

The HELP Fund can help make these dreams reality.

From hair salons, to dress shops to restaurants, the HELP Fund has provided a variety of businesses with the affordable financing needed to get them up and running. 

It can also help communities finance infrastructure improvements or projects that will foster growth, create or retain employment opportunities or help with feasibility studies, among others.

Other opportunities available

The goal of our economic development programs is to partner with the communities we serve to ensure they thrive.

In addition to low-interest financing, we offer a number of other incentives to help businesses get started. 

Our growth incentive offers up to a year’s worth of free electricity through rebates on the customer’s utility bill.

We also offer a special incentive for large users of electricity – the Energy ONE Incentive, which provides an energy only rate for the first three years of operation.

All of these incentives are designed to help take some of the uncertainty out of the first few years of operations.

If you have questions about any of these programs, I encourage you to contact Heartland Energy’s Director of Economic Development Casey Crabtree at (605)256-6536. If you get a call from someone looking to establish their business in your community and need more information on incentives, you can always give them Casey’s information to learn more about these programs.