MOBUCK$ applications close after quickly hitting cap

It only took six hours for a popular state loan program to exhaust its funding when it reopened this week, according to the Missouri Treasurer's Office.

MOBUCK$, also known as the Missouri Linked Deposit Program, partners with lenders to provide low-interest loans focused on growth for small businesses, agriculture operations and local governments.

The program initially closed its application portal in May as deposits neared its $800 million cap. It reopened Tuesday to award the remaining $119 million for the funding year and closed shortly thereafter due to high demand, according to a news release.

"In only six hours on Tuesday, we received 142 applications for just over $119 million in MOBUCK$ funds that became available with the start of the new year," Treasurer Vivek Malek said in a statement. "That consumed all available loan capacity. Still, I am grateful that farmers, small businesses and providers of much-needed multi-family housing were able to take advantage of relief from high interest rates through MOBUCK$ loans."

According to Malek, 97 loan applications received Tuesday were for qualifying small businesses, while 39 applications were for agribusiness and six would go toward multi-family housing projects.

Due to the high demand for the program, Malek has supported efforts to raise the cap to $1.2 billion, a $400 million jump filed this month as a bicameral push in the Missouri Legislature.

Both Sen. Sandy Crawford, R-Buffalo, and Rep. Terry Thompson, R-Lexington, filed bills that would increase the cap to $1.2 billion to meet demand.

"This staggering demand is more evidence of both the popularity and the need for MOBUCK$ as a powerful relief valve against inflation," Malek continued. "That is why my office is supporting legislation to expand MOBUCK$ maximum capacity by $400 million – to enable our state to provide more relief to qualified borrowers whose products and services strengthen Missouri's economy."

To participate in the program, businesses must be headquartered and conduct operations and business within Missouri, employ fewer than 100 people full time and be a for-profit venture. Loans can be used for rent, utilities, insurance or taxes, inventory, equipment, professional fees, renovations and repairs, and land or building purchases.

The job enhancement section of the program extends the program to new or existing businesses with 10 or more employees able to create at least one permanent full-time job during a deposit period for each $50,000 borrowed through the program.

The program also offers loans to alternative energy businesses working with solar, wind, hydroelectric or other energy sources besides fossil fuels or consumers seeking to purchase or install equipment related to alternative energy sources.

Agriculture firms can work through five different subprograms: the Farming Operations Program, Beginning Farmer Program, Guaranteed Agribusiness Program, Guaranteed Livestock Operations Program and Facility Borrow Program, depending on their operation and needs. The programs aid farmers and agricultural operations in covering production expenses, new farms, ag ventures, renewable fuel production, and livestock and poultry production.

A local government program can provide loans for municipalities seeking to invest in capital improvements or public programs, like purchasing safety vehicles. Finally, a multi-family housing category allows existing housing units or affordable housing developments to receive loans for their operations, according to the Treasurer's Office.

Vivek visited Callaway County in November as part of a statewide tour to spread information about MOBUCK$.

During his meeting with Callaway County officials, Malek predicted a "huge demand" for the program once applications resumed.

$2 million in MOBUCK$ was previously awarded to Callaway County, according to previous Fulton Sun reporting.

Malek previously said he wants to see the amount increase to $4 million.