|BILL AS PASSED BY HOUSE||2007-2008|
AN ACT RELATING TO THE JOB START PROGRAM
It is hereby enacted by the General Assembly of the State of Vermont:
Sec. 1. FINDINGS; PURPOSE
(a) The general assembly finds:
(1) Beginning in 2002 the Job Start Board began a process of evaluation and consultation with stakeholders to chart a course of sustainability and relevancy for the Job Start Program.
(2) As part of this process in January 2005 the Vermont economic development authority (VEDA) and Central Vermont Community Action Council jointly funded a report, Job Start Analysis and Recommendations, by consultant Sleeping Lion Associates. The report found: “Statewide access to flexible character-based lending is both desirable and needed for microenterprises.” One of the recommendations for making Job Start viable and sustainable was that clear ownership and accountablitiy for the entire program needed to rest in a single entity committed to serving low-income people with credit and financial services.
(3) In response to the presentation of the report to a meeting of stakeholders in June of 2005, two entities, Community Capital of Vermont and Opportunities Credit Union, expressed interest in administering Job Start.
(4) In October 2005 the Job Start board sent out a request for information proposals (RFI) to stakeholders. RFI’s were received from Community Capital of Vermont and Opportunities Credit Union.
(5) In January 2006 the two entities presented their proposals to the Job Start Board.
(6) In July 2006 the board approved a motion to ask Community Capital of Vermont to develop a plan to restructure Job Start in consultation with Opportunities Credit Union, the Office of Economic Opportunity (OEO) and the Job Start staff.
(7) In September 2006 the board approved Community Capital’s proposal.
(b) In response to these findings, it is the purpose of this act to ratify the agreement to restructure Job Start by moving the program from VEDA to OEO who will appoint a nonprofit as the program administrator that has met the criteria in Sec. 2 of this act and has the recommendation of the Job Start Advisory Board and VEDA.
Sec. 2. 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 to administer a microenterprise loan program for low income applicants.
(b)(1) The office of economic opportunity shall engage a Vermont nonprofit organization to be the job start program administrator and manage the microenterprise loan program hereinafter referred to as the job start revolving loan fund. 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:
(A) be registered as a nonprofit with the secretary of state;
(B) be certified by the secretary of state as being in good standing;
(C) be certified by the U.S. Department of the Treasury as a Community Development Financial Institution (CDFI);
(D) has experience managing municipal loan funds;
(E) has the resources and business plan in place to implement the job start revolving loan fund program statewide;
(F) has the support of the community action agency network as demonstrated by the support of the Vermont community action directors’ association; and
(2) The job start program administrator shall be responsible for administration of the program in accordance with organizational policies and procedures approved by the office of economic opportunity. Such policies shall include specific provisions for the job start revolving loan fund program, including eligibility criteria based on an applicant’s income, interest rates for loans, and the loan maximum which shall not exceed $25,000.00 to any applicant.
(3) As an ongoing requirement of its charge to administer the job start revolving loan fund program, the job start program administrator shall have two members on its board of directors who are former job start revolving loan fund borrowers. To aid in the transition of the job start revolving loan fund program from the Vermont economic development authority to the job start program administrator, the job start program administrator shall also elect one former job start advisory board member to its board for one term as defined by the job start program administrator’s policies.
(4) The job start program administrator shall report annually to the office of economic opportunity on loan fund activity and performance against goals and standards that are determined in advance by the office of economic opportunity. The house committees on commerce and appropriations and the senate committees on economic development, housing and general affairs and appropriations shall also receive a copy of this report annually.
(c) 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.
(d) Notwithstanding the foregoing, the office of economic opportunity 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 program administrator may by policy prescribe; provided, however, that no loan of greater than $25,000.00 may be so approved.
§ 3722. REGIONAL MICROBUSINESS DEVELOPMENT PROGRAMS
The office of economic opportunity shall provide grants to each community action agency for the provision of the microbusiness development program at each community action agency. In the event that a community action agency is unable, as determined by the office of economic opportunity, or unwilling to perform the required services, the office of economic opportunity may provide grants to another qualified regional entity.
§ 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. 3. 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 office of economic opportunity to the extent that they are not inconsistent with the provisions of this act. The authority shall continue to operate the job start revolving loan fund program to the extent that it is not inconsistent with the provisions of this act, until the office of economic opportunity has engaged the job start program administrator. 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, 2007 shall be deposited into the revolving loan fund administered by the office under 3 V.S.A. § 3723.
Sec. 4. REPEAL
Subchapter 7 of Title 10, comprising §§ 278, 278a, and 278b, is repealed.
Sec. 5. OFFICE OF ECONOMIC OPPORTUNITY GRANT FOR MICROENTERPRISE LENDING
After the effective date of this act, the office of economic opportunity may issue a one-time grant of no more than $40,000.00 from the job start revolving loan fund to a community development financial institution for the purposes of making microenterprise loans with the same criteria and performance requirements as the job start program.
The Vermont General Assembly
115 State Street