Interest In VOLT Loans High; County Expects Larger Allocation

SNOW HILL — Over the next few weeks, Worcester County plans to again pursue state casino VOLT loan funding by partnering with Anne Arundel County to serve as loan managers.

This time around Worcester hopes to receive more than the $500,000 the county secured in the previous round as local businesses have evidenced a clear demand for the loan funding.

Worcester should have a good shot at bringing in a greater amount of funding this year. The $500,000 optioned last year was quickly lent out to four local businesses with plenty of demand left over.

“I get calls here every day for the VOLT fund,” said Bill Badger, Worcester’s director of economic development.

Luckily, along with increased need there is a growing resource pool. VOLT loan funds are drawn from the revenue generated by Maryland casinos. Business has been booming for many of those casinos and having the Casino at Ocean Downs right in Worcester’s backyard highlights the county to the state.

“The Maryland casinos are doing extremely well so that pot of money that’s available to be put back to work in these revolving loan funds is bigger so we’re very optimistic that we’ll have the money available to help grow the economy here,” said Badger.

VOLT loans, which carry a favorable interest rate and criteria such as proximity to Ocean Downs, have already made an impact in the county. The four businesses currently included in the VOLT program locally are the Kite Loft, Plak That, Blue Flame and Barn 34, receiving $64,000, $90,000, $75,000 and $300,000 loans, respectively.

The loans can be used for a number of improvements or renovations, all of which serve to boost the county economy.

Badger admitted that the county did not anticipate the level of interest in VOLT loans that has been displayed but will work in the next loan cycle to secure additional funding.

“The demand is here. The first year it was a new program and we were kind of guessing what the demand would be and we know that the demand is here so we’ll try to allocate as much as we can here in our market,” he said.

An announcement on whether or not Worcester, in collaboration with Anne Arundel, will remain a VOLT fund manager isn’t expected until later this spring though Badger has said that he’s confident in Worcester’s application.