“It’s not just for Christmas.” That was the point made by Lisa Koski, executive director of the Glasgow Region Chamber of Commerce and Agriculture. She was talking about the Community Cash Loan program run by the Chamber to encourage local purchases.
Called Christmas Cash in years past, the local loan program is designed so residents can take out an interest-free loan to spend at community stores, benefiting shoppers and business owners. Individuals are eligible for up to $1,000 each, while married couples can apply for $2,000. Loans are on credit approval and have a 10 month repayment period. Funds that are not used can be returned to banks for full credit.
Based on the previous name, some may assume that the program is only for Christmas shopping. Koski is quick to point out that’s not true: “If you want to update your furniture, work on a renovation project, or buy gas in bulk. Or groceries! You can buy a prepaid grocery gift card and free up money for daily expenses.
The list of vendors participating in the Community Cash program this year runs the gamut from places that would normally be considered Christmas gifts, such as Red Barn Gifts, Robyn’s Nest and Shippwrecked, to those offering necessities, Dale Plumbing & Heating, Markle’s Ace Hardware and Albertsons.
A full list of participants is available from the Chamber and from participating financial institutions, First Community Bank, Glasgow, First Community Bank, Hinsdale, Bank of Glasgow and Independence Bank. Buyers are encouraged to ask companies if they are participating. If a company is not, they are encouraged to contact the Chamber to be added to the list of suppliers. Companies must be members of the Chamber to participate and the registration fee is $15. “We’re very accommodating,” Koski said. “The company can call the Chamber, which will call the banks and then they [the business] can accept the Community Cash script right away.
As with much of what the Chamber does, the driving force behind the program is the community. Koski stressed that the Chamber wants people to buy locally, to support the local economy. With Small Business Saturday just days away, November 30, the Chamber reminds the public that the Community Cash program is still available to everyone.
The benefits of shopping local in any community have been touted by business organizations and financial journalists across the country. Lisa Wirthman, quoting Amy Hartzler of Forbes’ Business Alliance for Local Living Economies, said, “For every $100 spent at one of these businesses, for example, $68 stays in the community.
Other benefits of shopping local include job creation, variety of products available, improved local networks and knowledge, environmental sustainability and increased real estate values. As the Chamber stated in a press release earlier this year, “Buy local and the money stays here.” Koski further emphasized that “this is not a low income loan. It’s for everyone! We really see it as an investment in the community. I encourage everyone to think about it.
The community loan program has been in place for many years, with some statistics available as far back as 1999, when $143,378 was loaned. The program has maintained a steady number of companies participating each year, with an average of over 60 suppliers per year. Over the years, the numbers have fluctuated in terms of the number of loans and the total dollar amount given to the community. In 2018, 129 loans amounting to $115,555 were disbursed to 62 businesses.
The loans were first made available on October 16 and the last day to apply is Monday December 30. The last day to spend the funds is Tuesday, December 31, while any unused script must be returned to the financial institution no later than Friday. January 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.