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Missouri lawmakers back big expansion of low-interest loans amid growing demand for state aid WFTV [Video]

Small Business Funding

JEFFERSON CITY, Mo. — (AP) — Missouri lawmakers gave final approval Thursday to significantly expand a low-interest loan program for farmers and small businesses, in a move that reflects strong consumer demand for such government aid amid persistently high borrowing costs.

The legislation comes as states have seen surging public interest in programs that use taxpayer funds to spur private investment with bargain-priced loans. Those programs gained steam as the Federal Reserve fought inflation by repeatedly raising its benchmark interest rate, which now stands at a 23-year high of 5.3%.

Higher interest rates have made virtually all loans more expensive, whether for farmers purchasing seed or businesses wanting to expand.

Under so-called linked-deposit programs, states deposit money in banks at below-market interest rates. Banks then leverage those funds to provide short-term, low-interest loans to particular borrowers, often in agriculture or small business. The programs can save borrowers thousands of dollars by reducing their interest rates by an average of 2-3 percentage points.

When Missouri Treasurer Vivek Malek …

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