Introduced by Representative Klein of East Montpelier
Subject: Conservation and development; economic development authority; job start program
Statement of purpose: This bill proposes to authorize the office of economic opportunity to take over the overall supervision of the job start program and to collaborate with a nonprofit agency that meets certain qualifications to administer the program.
AN ACT RELATING TO JOB START PROGRAM
It is hereby enacted by the General Assembly of the State of Vermont:
Sec. 1. 3 V.S.A. chapter 57A is added to read:
CHAPTER 57A. JOB START
§ 3721. JOB START PROGRAM
(a) There is created a job start program to provide assistance in the development of business plans and administer a microenterprise loan program for low income applicants.
(b)(1) A job start advisory board is established within the office of economic opportunity to administer the job start program.
(2) The board shall consist of seven members: the secretary of commerce and community development or designee, the executive director of the authority or designee, the director of the office of economic opportunity or designee, one member who is a member of the board of a regional development corporation approved under chapter 76 of Title 24, one member who is a member of the board of directors of a community action agency, and two members with experience as participants in the job start program. Selection of board members shall be made with consideration toward geographic representation from throughout the state. Board members other than the secretary of commerce and community development and the director of the office of economic opportunity shall be appointed by the governor, with the advice and consent of the senate, to five-year terms, except that the governor shall stagger initial appointments so that the terms of no more than two members expire during a calendar year.
(3) Appointed members shall receive per diem compensation and expense reimbursement in accordance with the provisions of section 1010 of Title 32.
(c)(1) The job start advisory board shall adopt such policies as it deems necessary to carry out the purposes of the program. Such policies shall establish eligibility criteria based on an applicant’s income, shall set interest rates for loans, and shall require that a loan may not be made in an amount in excess of $20,000.00 to any applicant.
(2)(A) The office of economic opportunity shall assign a Vermont nonprofit organization to be the job start program administrator and manage the program. The office of economic opportunity shall provide grants to the job start program administrator to manage the job start revolving loan fund. The job start program administrator shall have the following qualifications:
(i) be registered as a nonprofit with the secretary of state;
(ii) be certified by the secretary of state as being in good standing;
(iii) have qualified with the Internal Revenue Service as a 501(c)(3) organization;
(iv) be certified as a Community Development Financial Institution (CDFI);
(v) be designated by the agency of commerce and community development as a Nonprofit Community Development Organization (NCDO) and has experience managing municipal loan funds;
(vi) have the resources and business plan in place to implement the job start revolving loan fund program statewide in cooperation with the community action agencies; and
(vii) have the support of the community action agency network as demonstrated by the support of the Vermont Community Action Directors’ Association.
(B) The job start program administrator shall be responsible for administration of the program in accordance with the policies of the job start advisory board. The job start program administrator may examine any records relating to job start loans and may conduct such program and fiscal audits as the program administrator deems necessary.
(d) For purposes of this section, “loan” means a loan, or a financing lease, provided that such lease transfers the ownership of the leased property to the lessee following the payment of all required lease payments as specified in the lease agreement.
(e) Notwithstanding the foregoing, the job start advisory board delegates to the job start program administrator the authority to review, approve, and make loans and to disburse funds on such loans up to such limits as the job start advisory board may by policy prescribe; provided, however, that no loan of greater than $20,000.00 may be so approved.
§ 3722. REGIONAL MICROENTERPRISE DEVELOPMENT PROGRAM
The secretary of commerce and community development shall provide grants to each community action agency for the provision of the microenterprise development program at each community action agency. In the event that a community action agency is unable, as determined by the secretary, or unwilling to perform the required services, the secretary may provide grants to another qualified regional entity. Each community action agency or other qualified regional entity will recommend loan committee members to the job start program administrator.
§ 3723. JOB START LOAN FUND
(a)(1) A job start revolving loan fund is created as a special fund subject to the provisions of subchapter 5 of chapter 7 of Title 32. The fund shall be administered by the office of economic opportunity for the purposes of the Vermont job start program, in accordance with the provisions of this chapter.
(2) The job start revolving loan fund shall receive as deposits any state or federal funds appropriated for the program by the general assembly, any repayments of principal and interest of program loans, any private monies related to the administration and operation of the job start program, any grants received for the benefit of the program, any funds arising from loans made to the fund by banks or from other private sources not exceeding $500,000.00 in the aggregate, and any interest earned by deposits. Notwithstanding subdivision 588(4)(A) of Title 32, monies may be disbursed from the fund for program purposes without an annual appropriation.
(b) The liabilities or obligations of the office of economic opportunity with regard to its activities under the job start program shall not extend beyond the funds which are deposited in the job start revolving loan fund and shall not constitute a debt or pledge of the faith and credit of the state or any subdivision of the state.
Sec. 2. TRANSFER OF POWERS AND DUTIES AND ASSETS AND
The office of economic opportunity is the successor to the Vermont economic development authority codified in subchapter 7 of Title 10, for purposes of continuing the job start program repealed by Sec. 3 of this act. The powers and duties of the authority shall continue and shall be vested in the board to the extent that they are not inconsistent with the provisions of this act. The decisions of the authority relating to the job start program shall continue in effect, to the extent that they are not inconsistent with the provisions of this act, until such time as new or amended policies of the Vermont job start board are adopted. The office of economic opportunity shall succeed to all of the authority’s rights, assets and liabilities relating to the job start program. Funds in the job start revolving loan fund on June 30, 2006 shall be deposited into the revolving loan fund administered by the office under 3 V.S.A. § 3723.
Sec. 3. REPEAL
Subchapter 7 of Title 10, comprising §§ 278, 278a, and 278b, is repealed.
Sec. 4. APPROPRIATIONS
(a) The sum of $500,000.00 is appropriated from the general fund for fiscal 2007 to the job start special fund.
(b) The sum of $100,000.00 is appropriated from the general fund for fiscal year 2007 to the job start special fund for the microbusiness development loan program.
(c) The sum of $100,000.00 is appropriated from the general fund for fiscal year 2007 to the office of economic opportunity for the purpose of supervising the job start program.
The Vermont General Assembly
115 State Street