Panel OKs business loan for Taylor Studios

Panel OKs business loan for Taylor Studios

RANTOUL– When Wal-Mart moves out of its North Lon Drive location to open a new supercenter by Interstate 57 next year, the old building may not stay vacant for very long.

The Rantoul Revolving Loan Committee voted 6-0 Thursday to award a $249,000 loan to Taylor Studios for 15 years at 4 percent interest.

Committee member David Chestnut of Busey Bank said the money would be used by Taylor Studios to acquire the old Wal-Mart building and move there from its current location at 1320 Harmon Drive.

Taylor Studios Controller Jane Skinner said the purchase price is still under negotiation.

But Rantoul Aviation and Economic Development Director Reed Berger told the Rantoul Economic Commission two weeks ago that Wal-Mart was listing the property for $1,050,000.

Taylor Studios is a design and fabrication firm that produces educational and creative exhibits for museums around the world.

The company was started by Betty Brennan and Joe Taylor in Mahomet in 1991 and moved to Rantoul in 1998.

In the year 2000, Inc. magazine put Taylor Studios on its list of the 500 fastest-growing companies in America.

According to Taylor Studios' loan application, the company currently has 35 employees and intends to hire an additional 15 people following the move to North Lon Drive.

Revolving Loan Committee member Denny Long of the Bank of Rantoul said that Taylor Studios' sales increased by 10 percent from 2003 to 2004 and is on pace for another 10 percent increase for 2005.

"With this tremendous growth, they are looking for a larger location," Long said.

Skinner said the move would likely take place next year.

The Revolving Loan Committee administers funds contributed by the village and the federal Economic Development Administration for businesses in the community that need money to create or retain jobs. Loans may not exceed $250,000.

Rantoul Comptroller Scot Brandon said the fund will have $133,000 left after the loan is made to Taylor Studios.

In other business, the Rantoul Micro Loan Committee voted 7-0 Thursday to approve a seven-year $20,000 loan at 4 percent interest to Fisher businessman Jack Pinjoli.

Pinjoli, the owner of the Village Garden Restaurant in Fisher and former owner of Bunny's Pizza in Fisher, opened Jack's Bar and Grill at 108 N. Garrard St. a few weeks ago.

Pinjoli said the bar and grill will be open daily from 11 a.m. to 1 a.m., with food (largely sandwiches, salads and appetizers) served from 11 a.m. to 9 p.m. and a disc jockey from 9 p.m. to 1 a.m. Earlier this month, Mayor Neal Williams issued a full tavern license to Pinjoli. That license had last been held by another tavern, The Landing Strip, which closed two years ago.

The Micro Loan Committee administers funds solely contributed by the village to help businesses in the downtown area. Loans from this committee may not exceed $50,000.

Rantoul Comptroller Scot Brandon said the Micro Loan fund will have $225,000 in it following the loan to Pinjoli.

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