BY DEANNA DERWAY
As 2015 drew to a close, we once again reflected
upon the past year and optimistically look ahead
to the opportunities and challenges that will
shape the overall economy in the coming year.
The Washington County LDC has once again
experienced a steady increase in loan requests
as the health and optimism of small businesses
strengthens. In 2015, 10 new loans totaling over
$1 million dollars were added to our portfolio
in a variety of sectors. The improving economy
seems to have led to more spending, and increased
investments in equipment that has in
turn spurred production and produced healthy
We believe that this optimistic trend will continue
to grow into 2016 with this steady growth
as a welcome sign that the economy continues to
head in the right direction.
The New Year delivers new opportunity and
trends are looking positive for the economic
climate in our region. Some positive economic
signals we have seen include employment growth,
low unemployment rates, lower energy costs, and
increased business investment.
The economic uncertainty that persisted following
the recession has subsided, with increasing
consumer confidence and the willingness
to purchase homes, spend more money, and in
general take more risks. In fact, as predicted, the
Federal Reserve found the confidence to raise
interest rates a quarter-point for the first time in
nearly a decade.
In Washington County, small businesses play
a crucial role in our economy as they are the
engine driving job growth and cash flow through
the community’s economy. Successful local
businesses allow owners to remain in place and
generate opportunities for employees and other
entrepreneurs. Over the past year one trend we
have seen is businesses investing in the future
by buying new equipment and real estate, hiring
new employees, and increasing inventory, as well
as refinancing debt to get lower payments and
lower interest rates.
As stated in years past, Infrastructure is a
foundation for economic growth and development.
Strong, efficient water and sewer systems,
transportation systems and communications
networks are the key to future development. In
mid-December 2015 the state REDC awarded
three Washington County villages millions of
dollars to upgrade and expand water and sewer
Improving this infrastructure will pave the
way for business expansions and start-ups in
these areas. Even with this growing optimism,
our economy and small business owners faces
many challenges and uncertainties this year from
finding the next customer to the cost of providing
employee benefits. The year 2016 also provides
uncertainty about who will prevail in the presidential
election and what he or she might bring
to the table after getting elected.
The primary service WCLDC offers is lending.
Financing entrepreneurs, supporting company
expansions, equipment purchases and real estate
investments are just a few of the services available.
Another priority is partnerships; the WCLDC
frequently works with financial institutions to
assist businesses, as well as offer community
development investment programs for developers.
The WCLDC consistently collaborates and
engages with strategic regional economic development
agencies and statewide organizations to
ensure resources, programs and funding streams
to best serve existing businesses and start-ups
Whether its equipment upgrades to existing
machinery, adding production lines, buying or
building a facility, working capital or job creation,
the WCLDC has programs with funding options
to encourage growth across all sectors throughout
the county. Our priority is to attract, retain and
expand business while balancing the “quality of
life” Washington County is infamous for and in
order to accomplish these goals, these relationships
Washington County is buzzing with the exciting
prospects for another busy year in 2016.
Unique new businesses and the expansion of
current companies are materializing routinely
and the WCLDC is committed to supporting these
businesses through their unique challenges and
subsequent success as employers in our region.