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Business group plans to expand

By Cornelia de Bruin

Triplicate staff writer

It's in free-form stage right now, but North Coast Small Business

Development Corporation is laying big plans for a possible expansion

of its nearly year-long efforts.

The center opened February 2006. Since then, it's helped 170 Crescent

City entrepreneurs launch their own businesses.

Because the nonprofit's initial State Community Development Block

Grant is about to expire, Crescent City is seeking a replacement

continuation grant.

It's a grant that includes an Economic Development Allocation, which

itself includes the funding for SBDC. Called a Community Economic

Enterprise Fund Component, the 2004 grant applies to small business

development during 2005-2007. It supports the business development

effort here.

"We couldn't have the office open without the funds," said Michael

Kraft, CEO of North Coast Small Business Development Corporation.

Funding for the entity also comes from the Small Business

Administration. The national resource, however, requires its

recipients to supply a cash match to its monies, Kraft said.

The match comes from Community Development Block Grant funds.

SBA money picks up the cost of the business development center's

special workshops and conferences, while its CDBG money pays for the

projects that help low- and middle-income clients who either have or

want to start a business.

The development corporation offers counseling, referral and business

skills training to a group it calls "targeted-income" recipients, so

they can create jobs for people within the same economic bracket.

Its clients have household incomes that are 80 percent or less than

the median family income for this county.

The latest available figures show Del Norte County's median income at

$29,901. Those who make far less — four-fifths less — are living on

incomes that are $5,980.20 or less.

Although the CDBG grants can be as high as $500,000, Crescent City is

applying for about $208,000.

"We are applying for a larger amount, and if we succeed we would be

able to do some special things," Kraft said.

City Planner Will Caplinger, is preparing the grant submittal now.

This is where free-forming enters the picture.

Until Kraft knows that the center's grant proposal has nailed

funding, a final decision about how the money will be used won't be

made.

"Helping artists and retail businesses are two of the possibilities,

but we will wait to see what we get," he said.

The center's grant submittal is in the works now, he said.

"The next round, some time this spring, is where our firmed-out

application will come," he said.

Kraft is confident, even though the grant process is competitive.

"It's a very good source of funds and it is very under-spent in

California," he said. "I think Crescent City's odds are quite good

because we've been successful and used our money well."

The Crescent City Council will take public comment on the grant

submittal this evening.

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