State Rep. Bob Bromley, Mike Kelley, chief of staff for U.S. Sen. Bill White, and Scott Fitzpatrick, Missouri treasurer, left to right, listened to John Hunter, of American Ramp, discuss the MOBUCK$ program. GLOBE | JOHN HACKER

Missouri Treasurer Scott Fitzpatrick said Wednesday that a state-sponsored loan program could become more important to Missouri small businesses and farmers as interest rates climb for the first time in a decade.

Fitzpatrick visited American Ramp Co., 601 S. McKinley Ave in Joplin, to highlight the MOBUCK$ program, which allows the state to assist banks in making loans at below-market rates to qualifying businesses.

American Ramp used the MOBUCK$ program, through Mid-Missouri Bank, to purchase a $1.2 million CNC laser-cutting machine to manufacture skateboard and bike ramps and the other products.

Fitzpatrick said, “The benefit to the borrower is they can save substantial amounts of money on their interest expense. Typically it’s about 30% lower interest cost associated with the loan by using a linked deposit through MOBUCK$ as opposed to a traditional form of financing with bank debt.”

Big purchase

John Hunter, CEO of American Ramp, said his company is one of the national leaders in adventure sports park construction, building skatepark and BMX bike parks in the United States and more than 45 other countries around the world.

“We’re at the point where we’re really growing, and as we grow, we find that we need to make large capital investments in our business,” Hunter said. “We manufacture just about everything here in Southwest Missouri, and the biggest piece of equipment we use is a CNC laser. It was over a million-dollar purchase, so when we go to our bank and talk to them, they know about these programs and they introduced us to MOBUCK$. We were able to secure that piece of equipment that’s the most important piece of manufacturing equipment at a supercompetitive interest rate.”

Hunter said the business also used the MOBUCK$ program to purchase a fleet of vehicles.

Fitzpatrick said MOBUCK$ isn’t a new program — it has been around since the 1980s — but during times of low interest rates the program doesn’t get as much attention. He also said the program has been known by a number of names over the decades as state treasurers try to place their personal stamp on the office and its programs.

He said that aside from the name change, the program will operate as it has for decades.

“A lot of people hear about a program and they look at it as a handout,” Fitzpatrick said. “That’s not what this is. These guys are taxpaying business owners that are contributing to the economy and this is a small thing we can do to try to make their lives a little bit easier to be in Missouri and stay and grow Missouri.

“We’re simply using the cash the state has that we have to invest in some way, and we have about $14 billion that we manage in the treasurer’s office. Right now we have less than $300 million in this program and we can go up to $800 million. In terms of the total size of the state treasury and how much money we’re dealing with, this is a small piece that we can use to try to enhance the economy of Missouri and we can use to help banks and businesses work together to create jobs in Missouri.”

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