This spring, the Wyoming County Economic Development Authority reached a noteworthy milestone as our team surpassed the $10 million mark in our small business lending program distribution. Since 2001, our lending program has assisted more than 300 businesses across the state, enabling us to help sustain economic development in our region and support our fellow West Virginians in their business and entrepreneurial pursuits.
From startups to well-known establishments, the Wyoming County EDA has provided more than 400 loans — including some repeat recipients — for a variety of clients. But our lending isn’t limited to just Wyoming County — it’s available, convenient, and accessible for small businesses across the Mountain State.
Initially created as a partnership with the West Virginia Small Business Development Center, the EDA’s loan fund started out with a Micro Loan program to help local businesses in the aftermath of a devastating flood in Wyoming County in 2001. Early on, we identified a gap in regional small business lending and began working with state and federal agencies such as the USDA Rural Development and the West Virginia Infrastructure and Jobs Development Council to secure grants and loans of our own to offer more resources to counties outside of our own.
From there, we were able to develop a sustainable lending system that has since assisted hundreds of clients over two decades.
Currently, we offer a variety of loans for our clients, including the EDA Small Business Loan, Revolving Loan, Micro Loan, and IRP Loan. Each of these loans are designed to assist our fellow West Virginians and their businesses where they need it most — through site development, business expansion, recruitment and retention efforts, and technical support and referrals.
Laura Roberts-Lambert, administrative assistant with Loans and Operations at the Wyoming County EDA, has been involved with our lending program since its inception. She assists clients in filing paperwork, packaging loan proposals and handles loan closings. Laura said a number of factors are taken into consideration before loans can be provided by the Wyoming County EDA — but the vetting process shouldn’t deter potential clients.
“We do not look at just a specific part of the loan package to determine whether we will provide lending, we look at the entire package,” Laura said. “Even if you are young and following your dream, or if you have some credit issues, we still may take a chance with that business.”
Over the last year, the coronavirus pandemic has presented additional challenges for small businesses. Through the small business lending program and funding provided by the Appalachian Regional Commission, we’ve been able to provide $1,095,500 to clients throughout the state for COVID-19 relief. Prior to receiving the ARC’s funding, the Wyoming County EDA sustained a successful revolving loan program between 2007 and 2020, meaning that when one business paid off their loan, the funds were then accessible to other businesses across the state.
For Laura and the rest of our team at the Wyoming County EDA, watching clients’ businesses grow has been rewarding — especially when it comes to clients who first applied as startups returning as established businesses. Some clients who started with our lending program have since become bankable clients and, with continued growth, are now able to fund their own projects.
“The $10 million milestone is important because that is what our EDA has done to assist small businesses throughout our state, how we have helped our economy in West Virginia, and I feel like we have given people an option to stay in our state throughout the years of economic downturns,” Laura said. “If we were not able to assist some of these businesses then you must question: where would they be now?”
“We hope it has benefited them as much as it has benefited our EDA,” she added.
Passing the $10 million mark in loan distribution has been a tremendous accomplishment for our team at the Wyoming County EDA, and we are so grateful to the agencies and board members who have supported our investments in economic development across the state.
For more information on COVID-19 relief loans, contact Laura Roberts-Lambert at (304) 732-6707. Please note: Businesses seeking financial relief from the ongoing pandemic must have been in business since February 15, 2019. Businesses ineligible for COVID-19 relief may apply for our standard business loans.