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I-80 Fund receiving loan applications
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I-80 Fund receiving loan applications

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It has been two months since the launch of the I-80 Fund by Nevada Gold Mines, and local businesses are applying for, and receiving low-interest loans aimed at helping them make it through the coronavirus pandemic.

The loan program was started with an initial $5 million investment by Nevada Gold Mines, which is operated by the Toronto based Barrick Gold Corp. The program is managed by the Rural Nevada Development Corp.

“We have had three applications approved (as of Aug. 8, 2020), totaling $348,000,” Mary Kerner, Rural Nevada Development Corporation CEO said in August.

Kerner said there were also six additional local businesses that would be up for consideration in late August totaling $535,000 in loans.

“It is our community, we live in that community with those mom and pop businesses, and small business is what drives the industry,” Greg Walker, Nevada Gold Mines executive managing director said in July.

Businesses in Elko, Lander, Humboldt, and Eureka counties are eligible to apply for support through the program’s relief and recovery loans.

The first phase of the program will focus on disaster relief and recovery loans for small businesses impacted by COVID-19, with loans ranging from $5,000 to $100,000 with a 2 percent interest rate. To qualify for the program, businesses must have been in operation prior to January 1, 2020.

Kerner said Cyanco, which has a flagship plant — the world’s largest sodium cyanide production facility — in Winnemucca, has also pledged to make a donation to the I-80 Fund.

“Cyanco has pledged $100,000 in $25,000 quarterly installments and we have received the first installment already,” she said.

Cyanco is headquartered in Pearland, Texas, and serves customers in North America, Latin America and Africa.

Kerner said the I-80 fund can be an alternative to traditional financial institutions such as banks and credit unions, which can have stringent regulations regarding loan applications.

“This was set up as a disaster relief and recovery, therefore we are looking to help people through the disaster and help them recover and get them back into a positive position,” she said. “We are expecting impacted credit reports, we are expecting being behind on some bills or things like that.”

Kerner said possible applicants could include business owners that had to continue paying on loans while they were closed during the stay-at-home order, or that saw their customer base dwindle because of COVID-19.

“Small businesses are being impacted from a lot of different directions,” she said.

While the I-80 fund will initially focus on immediate relief and recovery efforts, the intention is then to evolve into a small business development fund to stimulate and support economic growth in northern Nevada.

The second phase of the program will provide loans to develop and grow small businesses in the region, thereby driving economic growth in northern Nevada.

“The idea is to grow that sustainable pot, so that amount of money is there,” Walker said. “Ideally, in 100 years when we are all gone there is still a pot of money there that small business can get some loans.”

Rural Nevada Development Corp. in Ely, a nonprofit organization, will manage the fund. The organization has been providing lending and other services to rural Nevada businesses since 1992.

For more information on the program and how to apply, reach out to RNDC at www.rndcnv.org or call 775-289-8519.

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