ATWATER -- The city may seek $300,000 in Community Development Block Grant funds to help a local boat-making company expand its business and possibly double its staff.
Atwater's Audit and Finance Committee heard the request earlier this month and elected to send the proposal to the City Council for a vote. It's unclear when the issue might be placed on a council agenda.
Wakecraft Boats Inc. is trying to obtain financing to expand its business to make a line of boats for a Canadian boat manufacturing company and to expand its services to refurbish boats. Wakecraft, based in Atwater, makes a range of pleasure boats used commonly to wakeboard and water ski.
A report on the project prepared by the Merced County Economic Development Corp. explained that Wakecraft has about 10 full-time employees and would hire another 10-12 people if it could expand its plant to take on the new boat model and add refurbishment services.
Scott McBride, Atwater's economic development director, said he believes Wakecraft has tried to obtain conventional financing, but hasn't been able to do so. The company applied for the Merced County Revolving Loan Program, but that loan was only for $100,000, less than what's needed for the full expansion proposed at the plant.
Heather Hennagan, economic development manager for Merced County Economic Development Corp., said the city wouldn't be liable for the loan to Wakecraft if the state grants the use of the CDBG dollars. The state grants the money to the city, the city then loans it to the business.
Of the $300,000 loan, about $25,000 would be retained by Atwater to apply for the money and administer it.
Wakecraft's owner was unavailable for comment on the project Tuesday afternoon.
Reporter Amy Starnes can be reached at (209) 385-2453 or firstname.lastname@example.org.