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The Daily Register - Harrisburg, IL
  • Du Quoin may not renew Espy loan: 54-month loan has had irregular payments; city wants payback to fuel newer, positive projects

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  • A multi-million dollar Southern Illinois business development loan program that is seeing success at every turn has one frustration hanging over it--the timely payback of the balance on a $100,000 loan made to Trogolo Enterprises owner Jim Espy.
    The Champion Communities program has fueled downtown Du Quoin redevelopment and is in place to hopefully play a key role--when the opportunity presents itself--to reload the Kroger store and develop other properties.
    Champion Communities is the rock star of business development.
    After Trogolo Enterprises, one of the world leaders in distributing large commercial Christmas displays, moved from Christopher to the Turco building in Du Quoin in 2007, Champion Communities and the City of Du Quoin were key players in creating a 54-month, $100,000 loan with payments of something over $2,000 a month until the loan is retired. At this writing, regular payments have not been made, but as the issue resurfaces owner Espy has made large block payments.
    Principle and interest put the remaining balance at over half of the original loan.
    Du Quoin being part of the feel-good Christmas industry has some positive things about it--employment and last year's project to build Santa recording studios into part of the building to create personalized messages for families and some notoriety. Espy certainly invested a lot in renovating the building and creating new offices. Furthermore, any issues in the marketplace are not of his making. They are part and parcel of an economy from which we hope for better things.
    Things are also starting to work out well for the neighboring P.R. Mallory building, now home to the Shawnee Library system.
    But. the Champion Communities mindset is clearly "Don't look back. We're not going there." There are new capital redevelopment projects that could use the loaned money when it becomes available.
    Bottom line: If the issue is not resolved, Du Quoin will not renew the remaining balance and make a demand for it.
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