Tourism, mining venture loans available

Posted: Tuesday, September 19, 2000

KENAI (AP) -- Kenai Peninsula businesses are showing interest in tourism and resource development loans being offered by the Alaska Commercial Fishing and Agriculture Bank.

John Delano, CFAB vice president, said he has two completed applications, and both are from peninsula businesses.

''Almost all the calls I've had have been from the peninsula,'' he said.

The interest so far has been in loans for tour boats and lodges.

CFAB previously made loans only for commercial fishing and agriculture. Last spring, the Legislature passed a bill authorizing it to give loans also for tourism and resource development ventures. Gov. Tony Knowles signed the bill, which took effect Aug. 30.

CFAB can loan up to $500,000 to individuals or married couples, and up to $1 million to corporations, partnerships or limited liability companies, Delano said. It often can offer longer terms and lower interest rates than conventional banks, and it can tailor payment schedules to match the revenue peaks of seasonal businesses.

Applications must be from Alaska residents or from businesses controlled by Alaska residents. Under the new rules, any business that derives income from tourism or resource development could qualify.

Conventional banks have been cautious about investing in marine enterprises, said Mark Gregory, Kenai small business development director for the Small Business Development Center of the University of Alaska.

There is strong competition in the charter industry, and if a motor blows up, a boat used as collateral may lose half its value. Likewise, he said, banks have been cautious about financing bed-and-breakfast operations.

CFAB was created in 1980 with $32 million in seed money from the Legislature, which it repaid by 1998. It is authorized by statute to loan money only to Alaska fishing and agricultural businesses.

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