$1 million loan proposed to kick-start regional business hub

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MUNCIE, Ind. (January 3, 2016)–Mayor Dennis Tyler is asking the Muncie City Council to create a $1 million loan fund to kick-start a proposed regional makers hub aimed at fostering local businesses, artists and artisans.

The City Council is expected to consider Monday whether to establish a revolving loan fund for Sustainable Muncie, the local nonprofit created in 2015 to turn the former Cintas industrial laundry building downtown into the hub known as GearBox: Muncie.

The money will come from the city’s $3.3 million in projected 2015 local economic development income tax revenue, The Star Press reports (http://tspne.ws/1OsQ4cA ).

Tyler said he chose to create the revolving loan fund to loan the $1 million to Sustainable Muncie rather than just give the project $1 million because he wanted the organization to assume responsibility.

The first tenants for the building have not yet been announced. Sustainable Muncie principals have said a range of potential tenants and projects include a brewery, education-related users, restaurants and artists, artisans and craftsmen.

GearBox was among the projects included in the recent unsuccessful effort to win Indiana Regional Cities Initiative funding. The city sought $980,000 in funding for the GearBox project, which was budgeted at $2.6 million in the project. Potential GearBox tenants have already won support from Ball State University.

Tyler said he will soon release details of his plan to continue to pursue projects like GearBox and the $48 million White River Canal District without Regional Cities Initiative funds.

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