East Liverpool CIC Business Loans Having Success

EAST LIVERPOOL, Ohio – The revolving loan program offered to city businesses by the Community Improvement Corporation has proven successful, members of its board of trustees learned this week.

Executive Director Bill Cowan reported at the annual organization meeting that the CIC has $335,000 loaned out to several businesses in the city.

The revolving loan program allows business owners to borrow money for start-up and operation costs, equipment and other purposes, with low interest rates. As the loans are repaid, the money is placed back into the CIC’s coffers to be loaned again.

Cowan said two loans – $20,000 to Murphy Coffee Shop and $90,000 to Rotating Equipment Services – were paid in full in 2022.

Among the outstanding business loans Cowan reported are in good standing are those made to Nikki’s Market, M&K Wine Co., Michelle Coppa, St. Clair Laundromat, Fresh on Fifth and Team Impact.

A $40,000 loan to businessman Shaun DaVill is in arrears with $38,400.69 owed, according to Cowan, who said legal action is pending. DaVill had borrowed the money to purchase equipment and for start-up costs for an ice cream store and a coffee shop in two storefronts in the Little Building, but those businesses never came to fruition, and the loan was not repaid, according to Cowan.

Also gaining popularity is the ARPA Facade Improvement Grant program implemented by City Council last summer and overseen by the CIC, which reimburses property owners for up to $12,500 per project for facade improvements.

President Patrick Scafide reported that a project approved in September for the Masonic Temple Co. on Broadway has been completed and inspected, meeting all requirements of the program. 

The project was “not major,” according to Scafide, who said it is “beautiful,” consisting of installation of historical lamp poles and light fixtures outside the building at a projected cost of $27,001.48, with grant funding of $12,500 to be reimbursed.

Masonic Temple officials had said the project was part of capital improvements at the historic building that will include incorporating a banquet ballroom and stage, conference and training center, social hall, commercial kitchen and more.

During the meeting, the board approved three additional facade improvement grant requests.

Kevin Kerr, owner of M&K Wine Co., was approved for two $12,500 grants for his proposed winery on Sixth Street, which consists of two separate buildings. The total project cost is $50,515.50 for painting both buildings, removing and replacing the facades and trim for both.

Member Connie Javens questioned whether there was a problem with Kerr’s own construction company, Veterans Energy Group, having provided the estimates for the project, but no objection was forthcoming, with Scafide saying the winery project “runs hand-in-hand with what we’re trying to do with the Thompson building.”

The winery will be across the street from the historic Thompson building, which is being targeted for renovation.

A request by Carrie Ann Williams for grant funding to assist with work at The Sturgis House Bed and Breakfast on Fifth Street was also approved, but with a reduction in the amount sought. Williams requested the maximum amount of $12,500 toward a project cost of $28,870 to restore masonry work on the building’s facade, but Cowan said some of the items were not eligible under program criteria, including sidewalk work, leading to a lower grant allotment of $11,055.64. 

In voting on the requests, member Scott Shepherd abstained from the Kerr issue since he is the project architect, and Cowan abstained from the Sturgis House issue since his brother’s masonry company prepared the project estimate.

During the meeting, member Herman Potts proposed starting a CIC Facebook page to publicize the work being done by the nonprofit organization.

“Today, you need to promote yourself and what you’re doing,” he said.

Pictured at top: The Sturgis House Bed and Breakfast on Fifth Street in East Liverpool.

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