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Manufacturer expands with financing via Missouri First

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State Treasurer Bob Holden was among a group of well-wishers who gathered April 5 at Republic Inc., 2221 N. Belcrest Ave., to congratulate the company on its growth, financed with the help of Liberty Bank and the Missouri First Linked Deposit Program.

With the robust economy, the popularity of recreational boating has increased, and Republic Inc. has seen demand for its original equipment marine components grow.

To help meet that demand, the small Springfield metal fabricating firm needed to make a major investment in new machinery, according to a release from Holden's office.

To help finance its growth, the firm turned to Liberty Bank and Missouri First.

"Small businesses like Republic Inc. now account for 95 percent of Missouri's registered firms and employ over half of all Missouri workers," Holden said. "My office wants to do everything we can to help them grow and prosper."

Holden's office recently deposited $100,000 in state funds with Liberty Bank through the Missouri First Linked Deposit Program for Small Business.

The deposit is allowing Liberty Bank to provide Republic Inc. with a reduced-cost loan to purchase new machinery and equipment.

The 7-year-old firm, which employs 14 at its plant on Belcrest Avenue, fabricates stainless steel and aluminum components. The parts are primarily for recreational fishing and pleasure boats. Among the parts it fabricates are stainless steel railings, grab handles and live-well covers.

Springfield-based Tracker Marine, which has four manufacturing plants in Missouri, is one of Republic's major customers.

Hugh Sutton, president of Republic Inc., said the Missouri First loan was very useful.

"It was a great help. It allows us to continue to pay decent wages and be profitable," Sutton said.

Under Missouri First, the state treasurer places state funds at below-market rates in Missouri financial institutions that agree to pass on the savings in the form of low-interest loans to eligible small-business borrowers. Similar deposits also can be placed to support low-cost farm loans.

R. Shane Strahl, vice president of Liberty Bank, said the Missouri First Linked Deposit program allows banks to approve loans at nearly 1 percent lower than the normal interest rate. For example, he said, the most recent Missouri First loan it approved was at an interest rate of 6.81 percent.

In order for a business to be eligible for a Missouri First loan, it must be headquartered in Missouri, have a for-profit classification and have 25 or fewer employees.

Small businesses like Republic Inc. that employ fewer than 25 people can borrow up to $100,000 from their bank through Missouri First to finance normal operating costs, inventory, renovations and equipment purchases. Loans tied to Missouri First deposits can cut an eligible borrower's interest costs by up to 30 percent.

"My office currently has more than $3.5 million placed in Greene County banks to assist some 60 other small businesses in the Springfield area," Holden said.

Holden's office is authorized to place up to $55 million in state funds in Missouri financial institutions to help support these low-cost small business loans.

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