• Kate Rose

Stormcloud Brewing Co.+ Community Development Block Grant Approval

Updated: Apr 5, 2019

Re-posted from Benzie Record Patriot

BENZIE COUNTY — The Benzie County Board of Commissioners approved of several agreements during a Jan.22 meeting. The first was a sub recipient agreement between the county and Venture North, which manages federal Community Development Block Grant funds on behalf of the county. The funds were given to the county nearly 30 years ago by the United States Office of Urban Development to help fuel job creation in order to support the community and local economy. The money was to be loaned out to businesses looking to grow and add jobs.

Laura Galbraith, executive director of Venture North, said the agreement outlines Venture North and the county’s responsibilities. Venture North is responsible for reaching out to area businesses to let them know the funding is available, as well as handling applications and vetting applicants; including obtaining collateral. Benzie County’s responsibilities include collaborating with Venture North and ensuring compliance with Housing and Urban Development standards. The county also must hold a public hearing before loans are awarded and oversee whatever project loan funds are being used for. Galbraith said the loans have best been used to purchase equipment.

In December of 2018, Stormcloud Brewing Company received a $70,000 loan, which will be used to purchase two 40-barrel fermenters, one 40-barrel brite tank and two10-barrel standard feeders. Stormcloud also will hire two full-time equivalent employees over the course of two years. Crystal Mountain Resort and Spa, Xpert Fulllment and Sleeping Bear Apiaries have all taken advantage of the program in the past.

Galbraith said the county has around $358,000 still earmarked as part of the program. The amount was

originally close to $1 million. Once a business pays back the loan,it is no longer earmarked for Benzie,

but instead can be used throughout a 10 county area.

Before Venture North handled the funds, the Benzie Economic Development Corporation did. However, the EDC did not have the time or expertise to work with the strict federal guidelines tied to the

funds, and the money sat, unused, for years.

Businesses interested in the Community Development Block Grant Loan Fund can contact Laura Galbraith at (231) 995-7110 or visit

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