Building Local Economy with Innovative Programs

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Building Local Economy with Innovative Programs

Posted on February 14, 2024 by Christine Myers

Our team is a big part of the social fabric of our town, but Mainspring of Ephrata also plays an important role in supporting and growing the local economy through several key initiatives. 

Mainspring partners with state and local governments as well as regional organizations to develop and manage programs that provide critical assistance to small businesses and entrepreneurs, helping them launch, expand, and improve their operations. A strong local economy depends on the success of these establishments and we’re proud to provide several programs designed to help them reach their goals.

Our newest initiative, recently launched in partnership with Ephrata National Bank, is the Revolving Loan Fund (RLF) program. The RLF is designed to sustain economic growth by providing critical financing to both existing businesses looking to expand and new entrepreneurs ready to launch. Mainspring established the program to support our initiative of enhancing our downtown area, while ENB utilizes its lending expertise to originate and book the loans.

How does the program work?

The program provides loans up to $100,000 for uses like equipment purchases, building upgrades, and business acquisitions. Applicants need just 10% down and Mainspring loans a minimum 10% as well. There are no origination fees, only minor third-party costs. Approved applicants even get a discount off the Bank’s small business rates.

To qualify, applicants must have solid credit and management ability. The business must be current on taxes and compatible with community objectives. Review criteria focus on overall economic impact, including job creation, industry diversification, and increasing productivity.

Mainspring guides applicants through the streamlined application process as our review committee screens potential borrowers through interviews focused on business plans, experience, goals, and more. This helps ensure loans support viable ventures poised for growth.

Another impactful initiative is the Facade Improvement Grant Program. Providing matching grants up to $5,000 to local property owners and merchants to improve the exterior appearance of their buildings, grants can be used for facade enhancements like signs, lighting, awnings, and fresh paint.

The program enables building owners to make substantial visual improvements that may otherwise be cost prohibitive, helping to attract and retain businesses in downtown spaces. It also contributes to the overall aesthetic and vitality of Ephrata’s commercial district.

Additionally,  Mainspring revamped and launched the Ephrata Property and Business Owners Association (EPBOA). This group provides opportunities for downtown merchants, building owners, and professionals to network, share ideas, and collectively enhance the local business district.

The EPBOA is open to business and property owners in the downtown corridor and meets at 8:00 a.m. on the second Tuesday of odd-numbered months. Location, guest speakers, and topics vary by month. See the Mainspring calendar for details.

Initiatives like these cultivate economic growth through engaging both businesses and the broader community. When enterprises actively collaborate, it creates synergies that strengthen the commercial district and the town as a whole.

Programs like the Revolving Loan Fund and Facade Improvement Grants, coupled with the EPBOA highlight Mainspring’s comprehensive approach to local economic development. Providing access to capital, improving our historic buildings, and facilitating partnerships all work in conjunction to help Ephrata businesses start, grow, and thrive.

These strategies empower entrepreneurs to turn their dreams into reality while creating jobs, expanding the tax base, and driving prosperity. Just as importantly, they enable Ephrata to retain its small-town character – built on family-run shops and businesses – while continuing to move forward.

As Ephrata’s nonprofit champion for community growth and revitalization, Mainspring will continue developing innovative solutions that bring out the best in local businesses for years to come. Because when enterprises succeed, the entire community flourishes.