By Gwendolyne Honrud
The Courier 

Chamber Community Cash Loans Still Available

Focuses On Shopping Local


November 27, 2019

“It doesn’t have to just be for Christmas.” That was the point driven home by Lisa Koski, executive director of the Glasgow Area Chamber of Commerce and Agriculture. She was talking about the Community Cash Loan program spearheaded by the Chamber with the intent of encouraging shopping local.

Called Christmas Cash in years past, the local loan program is designed in such a way that locals can take out an interest-free loan to spend at community stores, benefiting shoppers and business owners alike. Individuals are eligible for up to $1,000 each, while married couples can apply for $2,000. Loans are dependent on approved credit, and come with a 10-month period for pay back. Funds that are not used can be returned to the banks for full credit.

Based on the previous name, some may assume the program is soley for Christmas shopping. Koski is quick to point out that is not true, “If you want to update your furniture, or work on a remodeling project, or purchase gas in bulk. Or groceries! You can buy a prepaid grocery gift card and free up money for every day living expenses.”

The list of vendors participating in the Community Cash Program this year run the gamut from locales which would normally be considered for Christmas gifts, such as Red Barn Gifts, Robyn’s Nest, and Shippwrecked, to those who offer life necessities, Dale Plumbing & Heating, Markle’s Ace Hardware, and Albertsons.

A full list of participants is available at the Chamber and at the participating financial institutions, First Community Bank, Glasgow, First Community Bank, Hinsdale, Bank of Glasgow, and Independence Bank. Shoppers are encouraged to ask businesses if they are participating. If a business is not, they are encouraged to contact the Chamber to be added to the list of vendors. Businesses must be a Chamber member to participate and the fee to sign up is $15. “We are very accommodating,” said Koski. “The business can call the Chamber, who will call the banks and then they [the business] can accept the Community Cash script then and there.”

As in so much of what the Chamber does, the driving force behind the program is the community. Koski stressed that the Chamber wants people to shop locally, to bolster the local economy. With Small Business Saturday a few short days away, Nov. 30, the Chamber reminds the public that the Community Cash program is still available to all.

The benefits to shopping local in any community have been touted by business organizations and financial reporters across the country. Lisa Wirthman, citing Amy Hartzler of the Business Alliance for Local Living Economies in Forbes, said, “For every $100 spent at one of these businesses, for example, $68 stays in the community.

Other benefits of shopping locally include job creation, diversity of products available, enhancing local networks and knowledge, environmental sustainability, and increased real estate values. As the Chamber said in a press release at the beginning of the year, “Buy locally and the buck stays here.” Koski further stressed that, “This is not a low-income loan. It is for everybody! We see it really as an investment in the community. I’m encouraging everyone to consider it.”

The community loan program has been in place for many years, with some statistics available from as early as 1999, when $143,378 was loaned out. The program has maintained a steady number of businesses who participate each year, averaging over 60 vendors a year. Numbers over the years have fluctuated in terms of number of loans and the total dollar amount put back into the community. In 2018, there were 129 loans in the amount of $115,555 spent at 62 businesses.

Loans were first made available Oct. 16, and the final day to apply is Monday, Dec. 30. The last day to spend the funds is Tuesday, Dec. 31, while any unused script must be returned to the financial institution by Friday, Jan. 3, for credit.

Anyone interested in applying for a Community Cash loan is encouraged to contact the Chamber, 228-2222, or visit one of the participating banks - First Community Bank, Hinsdale, 203 Montana St, Hinsdale; First Community Bank, Glasgow, 540 2nd Ave S, Glasgow; Bank of Glasgow, 110 6th St S, Glasgow, or Independence Bank, 101 8th St. N, Glasgow.


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