The West Virginia Economic Development Authority accepted its first loan application from a whitewater rafting company since state lawmakers allowed the agency to approve public-assisted financing for the tourism-related businesses earlier this year.
On Thursday, the WVEDA, which helps finance select businesses in the state, preliminarily approved a $3.4 million low-interest loan for River Expeditions, a whitewater guide company in Fayette County.
The application would allow the company to use the government-subsidized loan to lower the interest rate on existing debt and is expected to increase employment at the rafting business from 107 to 148 people over the next three years, according to agency documents.
River Expeditions is the first outdoor adventure company to take advantage of a new law — SB 618 — which opened up the government-financing opportunities offered by the WVEDA to whitewater rafting operations in the state.
If the loan application is approved, River Expeditions, which is owned by Rick and Heather Johnson, will benefit from the 20-year loan that carries an interest rate of 0.75 percent.
The proposed financing of a rafting company is a shift for the WVEDA, which often helps to finance manufacturing companies and other corporations that have large capital investments in equipment and material.
As an example of that type of work, the WVEDA board also approved the purchase of $2 million in new equipment for Touchstone Research Laboratory in Ohio County…
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