Wescor Inc.'s Logan warehouse hums with activity as 90 employees churn out biomedical devices that will be shipped all over the United States and Europe.

In the midst of the worst economy in a generation, the company is thriving, with revenue up 50 percent over last year, according to Chief Financial Officer Janice Wallentine.

A key to that success: federal stimulus money.

Thanks to a recent $3.7 million loan backed by the American Recovery and Reinvestment Act (ARRA), Wescor was able to purchase and remodel a 50,000-square-foot warehouse in southwest Logan, dramatically expanding from their previous 15,000-square-foot space on Main Street.

With more room, managers could organize the production process more efficiently and hire several employees.

The coming year will bring a new line of chemistry analyzer equipment and about 10 more job openings, many for highly paid professionals like engineers and marketing specialists. Wallentine said that Wescor strives to recruit graduates of Utah State University, where the organization's founders studied engineering before going into business together in the 1960s.

"This company is home-grown and nurtured here and is going to stay here," added Dave Conine, state director for the U.S. Department of Agriculture Rural Development Program, which manages the ARRA Loan Guarantee Program. "They are creating and preserving good-quality jobs."

Wescor's success led USDA officials to name the business Utah's "ARRA Project of the Year" during a Tuesday luncheon at the Logan warehouse.

While competition for the award wasn't stiff - there are only a handful of ARRA-backed loans in the state - Conine said that the company is a great stimulus success story.

"We are leveraging local capacities to expand these businesses," he explained. "This doesn't take a massive federal appropriation; all we're doing is saying this loan is backed by the federal government, so the banks can do the deals where they might be hesitant, especially in our current climate."

Ronald Schulthies, executive vice president and chief lending officer at Bank of Utah, agreed, saying the government assurance allowed him to give Wescor better terms.

"It has been very helpful," Schulthies said. "We couldn't make these long-term loans without the support."

The ARRA program backs up 80 percent of an outstanding loan, though Conine said the government rarely has to step in.

While the $1.5 billion allocation ran out in April, entrepreneurs can still sign up for other USDA Rural Development loan guarantee programs set up through the Farm Bill. The U.S. Small Business Administration provides similar programs.




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