Interest-free loans for recently returned veterans

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Soldiers recently returning home from duty overseas could get an interest-free government loan to help start a business, under a bill laid over by a House division.


Sponsored by Rep. Jerry Newton (DFL-Coon Rapids), HF3570 would provide veterans the chance to apply for a loan of up to $20,000 from the Department of Employment and Economic Development. The House Higher Education and Workforce Development Finance and Policy Division held it over for possible inclusion in its omnibus policy bill.


John Baker, an attorney and retired U.S. Marine Corps gunnery sergeant, said the bill would help Minnesota’s “next greatest generation” get a leg up as they return home from Iraq and Afghanistan and enter the job market.


“I think it’s a wonderful idea to give a micro-loan to help a veteran start a business,” Baker said.


Rather than fund the program with new state spending, the bill would open up an existing DEED revolving fund established in 2008. The fund is currently used to loan money to businesses whose employees are called to active-duty military service. It currently has $280,000 available out of a $400,000 original appropriation.


The loans would only be made available to veterans who served in active duty at any time on or after Sept. 11, 2001.


A companion, SF2988, sponsored by Sen. Linda Higgins (DFL-Mpls), was amended and recommended to pass Tuesday by the Senate Agriculture and Veterans Budget and Policy Division.