Mark Johnson of Western Farms, LLC., speaks to the Scottsbluff City Council on Jan. 21, 2020. The council approved an LB 840 request for Western Farms, which must now be repaid after the business was shuttered.
Western Farms LLC, will have to pay back part of a loan it received from the City of Scottsbluff’s LB840 committee after the hemp farm closed.
Western Farms LLC entered into an economic development assistance agreement with the city on Jan. 21, 2020, with the maximum principal amount set at $500,000. Western Farms requested $434,000 for its hemp seed operation, reduced from an initial request of $1.8 million.
Since the business’ activities have ended, the issue was brought before the city council on Monday, May 16.
Starr Lehl, economic development director for the city,informed the council that the LB 840 citizen’s advisory committee met on May 3 to review loans. The Western Farms loan was not in compliance, Lehl said.
“The citizen’s advisory committee for LB840 looked over this agreement and is now referring it to council,” Lehl said.
A proposed loan modification agreement was agreed upon by Western Farms’ president Arthur Hoehn and needed council approval. The terms of the modification require the defunct business to repay the balance. The original agreement included a clause where a portion of the loan could be offset by job credits up to $75,000 per year over the next three years by creating at least 17 jobs.
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Council member Nathan Green asked how much of the loan was forgiven. Green was one of two council members who opposed the initial LB840 fund request in January 2020.
After applying job credits of $5,400 under the terms of the EDA agreement, the amount owed for the first payment is $140,516.87, which is due on June 1, according to the information presented to council. The remaining balance — just over $145,000 — must be paid by Dec. 15 to repay the balance on the Promissory Note totaling $291,180.05.
“Our attorneys do a great job on these contracts and they cover us very well,” Lehl said.
The council approved the modification.
The Star-Herald had not yet received comment from Western Farms as of publication.
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