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Client Spotlight – RLDC

When the idea behind restaurant Crust & Crumbles was simply a vision, capital from Rockford Local Development Corporation turned it into a reality.

It has done the same for Abreo, Magpie, Miguel’s Detailing and hundreds of other startups throughout both Rockford and Illinois. From a new police station in Rockford to a Culver’s in Huntley, RLDC has left its mark on the region’s economy.

A not-for-profit economic development agency, RLDC operates by offering SBA small business loans and managing revolving loan funds for government entities. Whether it’s helping a manufacturer expand or an entrepreneur set up shop, RLDC’s aim is to stimulate economic growth and job creation.

“If we weren’t here, there certainly would be a lot of small businesses that never would form or would struggle to expand,” said Executive Director John Phelps.

Of course, the vast magnitude of contracts involved with RLDC’s operations makes it heavily dependent on accurate legal advice. For the past 15 years, that’s where WilliamsMcCarthy has stepped in.

“Our typical bond will have 45 to 50 documents,” Phelps said. “It’s imperative to have someone who really knows the intricacies.”

For the past 15 years, the team at WilliamsMcCarthy LLP has worked on projects all over Rockford, including the conference center going next to downtown’s Embassy Suites.

“We’ve done some pretty unique things with WilliamsMcCarthy and we’ve always been pleased with their service,” Phelps said. “They are timely and professional. If you miss a deadline, that can be very costly to the client.”

RLDC makes a point of bringing WilliamsMcCarthy attorneys with them to annual Small Business Administration meetings, where they can network with and learn from other lawyers in the same line of work. That’s how they truly get to know the agency’s needs, obstacles, and opportunities.

Moving forward, RLDC has plans that will continue to make their legal needs evolve. The agency is aiming to begin a new loan fund throughout the Rockford region that is dedicated specifically toward Covid recovery. Through that, the agency would expand its territory by moving into McHenry County.

RLDC also has eyes on boosting affordable housing development as a Community Development Financial Institution. To date, the organization has financed $3 million dollars toward that effort, resulting in 45 homes being flipped and sold. The goal, Phelps said, is to discourage transience by promoting affordable home ownership.

For the many small businesses that RLDC has worked with over the years, Phelps knows that legal advice can be expensive at a time when start-up budgets are tight. Still, he advises his clients to secure a good lawyer who can be looking out for their best interest. It is, he says, a business expense you can’t afford to go without.

“It’s always cheaper to have a lawyer before you sign a contract than after,” he said. “We always recommend our small businesses surround themselves with good advisors. It’s an expense they are trying to avoid, but it’s a complex world out there.”

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