Lee Graves, who founded ELM, is a VERY wealthy person who is smart enough to know that if he can get millions from Illinois taxpayers at an interest rate estimated to be 3%, that he would be a fool not to take advantage of this taxpayer handout.. If Graves's business is so financially stable, he could fund the money personally, use Venture Capital Investors or borrow all the money needed from the banks himself.
Banks will always lend the money when they have the taxpayers backing. In event of default, the banks ALWAYS stand first in line to get repaid.
The sad part about Grave's maneuver is that County Board Members nor their administrator are competent loan officers. In the 10 years, I pointed this flaw out numerous times. I was able to stop one and possibly two, wealthy business persons from taking advantage of the boards lack of experience.
In my years on the board, no one in administration EVER checked to see if the jobs promised ever happened. Several of the county loans soured, especially FireFly. I was the only board member who consistently pointed out the flaws in FireFly's presentation. The leading local politician who strongly supported the loan was David Leitch.
Look up "FireFly" on my search bar for my blogs on this major boondoggle. I told our administrator at the time of the loan, that FireFly did not need a few million from Peoria City and Peoria County but that they needed several hundred million to develop, market and distribute their batteries. Our administrator, Patrick Urich, now Peoria City Manager, did NOT advise board members to turn down this bad loan. At the time, Peoria County did not even have a Financial Manager, a point I campaigned on in 2000. Board members who are paid around $7,000 a year are hardly qualified to be loan officers.
The JS Editorial board should take up this issue, BEFORE a decision is made by the County Board and the recipient laughs all the way to the bank as many other recipients have done over the past approximately 20 years.