New and expanding businesses can access a wide variety of state and federal funding sources for start-ups and expansions in Arkansas.
- The firm must be engaged in manufacturing, processing, or other activities directly supporting or related to manufacturing or processing. The project must be for expansion or acquisition of fixed assets that are needed for the manufacturing process
- The business's total outstanding tax-exempt bond debt nationwide cannot exceed $40 million
- The total capital cost may not exceed $10 million for a six-year period
- The capital expansion must create new jobs
The Arkansas Capital Corporation Group (ACCG) consists of several affiliated companies with different markets, including the Arkansas Capital Corporation (ACC), a privately owned, non-profit organization established in 1957 to serve as an alternative source of financing for businesses in Arkansas. Its main goal is to improve the economic climate in the state by providing long-term, fixed-rate loans to Arkansas businesses. Loans start at a minimum of $100,000.
As a preferred lender of the Small Business Administration, The Arkansas Capital Corporation Group (ACCG) makes loans from existing operationsand business start-ups for everything from new construction and equipment to working capital. ACC loans may be used in combination with bank loans, municipal bond issues, or other sources of financing.
The Venture Capital Investment Act of 2001 authorizes the Arkansas Development Finance Authority (ADFA) to raise significant amounts of venture capital for investment within the state. ADFA has authorized the U.S. Partnership for State Investment to be the Designated Investor Group for the Arkansas Institutional Fund (AIF). The AIF is authorized to invest in professionally managed venture capital funds that in turn make risk capital more accessible to promising Arkansas firms.
An amendment to the Arkansas Constitution enables local governments to issue bonds or notes to finance improvements in a redevelopment district. The bonds will be paid back from the increased tax revenue generated as a result of the improvements. A redevelopment district must be in an area that is considered blighted, deteriorated or underdeveloped.
Industrial Revenue Bond Guaranty Rules
The Bond Guaranty Program of the Arkansas Economic Development Commission was created to provide long-term, tax-exempt and taxable financing for businesses expanding or locating in Arkansas. Although the city or county may issue the revenue bond, the company is still responsible for paying the principal and interest. Under this program, the Commission "guarantees" timely payment of principal and interest, up to $5 million principal per bond issue, to the bondholders. This guaranty gives the bonds a better rating, thereby making the bonds more attractive to investors and reducing the company's cost to borrow money.
The Bond Guaranty Program complements the existing Act 9 Program by giving the bonds market strength for applicants that do not possess market-rated debt of investment grade quality. Additionally, the applicant must demonstrate to the Commission that the project provides substantial additional employment opportunities to Arkansans as a direct result of the project.
For businesses that have a financial history but are unable to sell industrial revenue bonds to the public, the Arkansas Economic Development Commission can assure bondholders of repayment by guaranteeing up to $5 million of the bond issue. The state's guaranty allows the bonds to be sold at a higher credit rating, therefore lowering the effective interest rate for the business. The Commission charges a 5 percent fee for guaranteeing issues of this type.
The Arkansas Development Finance Authority (ADFA) also provides a bond guaranty program that enables a company to obtain competitive, fixed interest rates. The total amount ADFA can guarantee is up to $6 million per borrower; therefore, a business could obtain up to $11 million per project, combining the programs of ADFA and the Economic Development Commission. ADFA has the capacity to issue bonds for a single project or for several projects on a pooled basis. The pooled or composite issue allows small businesses needing financing for fixed assets to take advantage of low interest financing and to share the costs for issuing bonds, an option which gives more financing opportunities which otherwise would not be available.
ADFA can also provide short-term financing to a company before bond proceeds are available.