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State Pension Fund Boosting Businesses

By Joyce Kryszak

Lancaster, NY – State Comptroller Alan Hevesi Monday announced another infusion from the state's pension fund into the state's small business loan program.

An additional $100 million from the state's retirement fund will be added to the New York Business Development Program.

That brings the total investment in the program to $300 million in less than twenty years.

The money, earned through pension fund investments, is loaned to small businesses at low interest rates through neighborhood banks across the state. Hevesi said it's money well spent.

"Over the years our involvement, as I'm told, has allowed us to invest in over 600 different companies, of different sizes, in order to allow them to expand and to grow," said Hevesi.

Hevesi and officials from NYBDC made the announcement from the site of a Lancaster fabrication shop. The specialty auto collision and painting company has contracted with the Buffalo Niagara airport and the Seneca Niagara casino. In fact, the company has tripled the size of its business with help from the loan program.

Pat MacKrell, who is Executive Vice President for NYBDC, said the program puts small businesses on equal footing with larger competitors.

"The key thing that the common retirement fund gives us, while returning a great return for the fund, it gives us the ability to fix the interest rate at a reasonably priced, long-term, fixed rate, so they can compete with the interest rate in the market with much larger companies," said MacKrell.

The state comptroller said the loan program has also helped the pension fund diversify and grow. Hevesi said the fund has rebounded in recent years, surpassing a previous high of 127 Billion dollars.