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Michelin Development aims to help create and grow small businesses

As Pictou County prepares to deal with the loss of 500 jobs at Michelin, John Tully is coming in to help give hope.

John Tully, president of Michelin Development, is shown with a client in South Carolina, Boyd Johnson, who started up a custom bicycle wheel company with a $50,000 loan, and is doing very well. In addition, in the photo, is Michelin retiree, Stan Pech, who helped Boyd Wheels with logistics within the international marketplace. The retiree used to work in logistics for Michelin. SUBMITTED

The Michelin Development president is helping to organize a program here in the community, which will provide low interest loans to people looking to either start up or grow their small business. It’s not just for those who work or have worked at Michelin, but for anyone with an idea that could create jobs in their community.

Michelin Development has been implemented in three different North American communities since it was first tried in 2006 in the Waterloo region of Ontario.

“Basically Michelin Development is a job creation program,” Tully explains.

The main part of the program is to offer low interest loans. They also give people access to Michelin expertise to help with the startup and growth of companies.

He said the loan program is unique in a couple of ways. He said Michelin is not a bank, so they partner with one to offer the loans. Basically Michelin Development guarantees the loan.

Tully is in town to help form a steering committee that will be the judge of who should get the assistance and is working with the local Chamber of Commerce and others to determine what would work best.

The steering committee, he said, will be made of local entrepreneurs, community and business leaders – “People whose business or what they do for a living is focused on small business.”

The loans themselves will range as high as $100,000 which will be payable over a five-year period.

“We do not require personal guarantees, but we do secure the loan against business assets.”

Recipients are required to have 25 per cent of the loan amount in hard equity or have plans to put that much.

Tully said one of the main things he wants to get out is that Michelin is remaining part of Pictou County, but are doing this as a way to help.

“This is an addition to that to help the communities that have been impacted by the difficult decision,” he said.

Michelin Development is putting $2 million into the program to start off with and money that’s paid back will be put back into the program.

In the three other programs they’ve done so far they’ve helped 84 businesses and lent more than $7.5 million which has created approximately 1,300 jobs.

Tully said he’ll be offering meetings soon to give out more information to people about the program and hopes to have a steering committee in place by June or July and then start reviewing applications by late summer or fall.

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