WATERFORD — The Oakland County Business Finance Corp. had over $38 million in projects approved for new development in the fiscal year 2012, topping the 2011 figure by 50 percent.
The figures, which were released this week at the annual meeting of the Oakland County Business Finance Corp. are an indication that the economy is improving, Oakland County Executive L. Brooks Patterson said. The OCBFC had approval on 39 projects — 13 more than in 2011 when $22.5 million was approved under a U.S. Small Business Administration program.
“The OCBFC had a solid year,” Patterson said. “I think we have turned the corner. Look at the repeat business, the number of projects and the quality of the projects we’re seeing. The quality service we provide has led these businesses back time and time again. It’s a government program that works.”
Among the repeat clients is Johnstone Supply, a heating and cooling wholesaler that operates nine locations in southeast Michigan, including stores in Orion Township and Madison Heights. The company secured seven loans in three years totaling $3.2 million. A portion of the loans — worth $1.3 million — are SBA 504 loans which are handled by the Finance Corp. and the Department of Economic Department & Community Affairs.
“If someone had told me to do an SBA loan, I would have told them I didn’t have the time or the energy or the reams of paper you need to fill out to get a loan,” said Tracy Sheehan, who owns the Johnstone stores with her husband Jeff. “But this was the most seamless banking we have ever done. They are so easy to work with.”
Sheehan, who lives in Oakland Township, said she was attracted to the Finance Corp. because of Patterson and the expert service provided by the finance team.
“Oakland County is run differently from other counties,” she said. “… I have faith in that program. I’ll always work with them.”
Since its inception, the OCBFC has funded 433 loans totaling $491 million in investment and created or retained more than 17,800 jobs.