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County board approves $25,000 loan for former commissioner

Jan Sivertson discusses the county's communication policy
Jan Sivertson discusses the county's communication policy

Former Cook County Commissioner Jan Sivertson made a request to the county’s revolving loan fund for $25,000 to make improvements to her art gallery in downtown Grand Marais. Sivertson used a personal guarantee rather than any personal property as collateral. The loan has a life, or payback timeline of eight years. The revolving loan committee approved Siverston’s request during a meeting June 3.

Cook County Auditor-Treasurer Braidy Powers explained that the loan for Sivertson would be used for improvements to the gallery website, to improve usability and enhance year around sales without adding wall space to the gallery. The loan will also be used for framing, printing, and image-capturing equipment upgrades to match anticipated growth.

The next step in approving the loan for Sivertson was a vote by the Cook County Board of Commissioners. This approval came through during a meeting of the county board on Tuesday, June 11. The approved Sivertson’s revolving loan request on a 4-0 vote. Commissioner Heidi Doo-Kirk, who is a bookkeeper for the Sivertson Gallery, recused herself from the vote.

In October 2018, the commissioners had a lengthy conversation about the county’s role in lending money. At the heart of the conversation was a debt owed to the county's revolving loan fund from the Birch Terrace Supper Club in Grand Marais. That instance involved the use of a local resident’s home used as collateral to receive funds from the revolving loan committee. Ultimately that situation was resolved by the county accepting raw land in lieu of payment.

Powers said the revolving loan fund felt comfortable having Sivertson’s personal guarantee or word back the loan in this instance.
According to information on the county’s website, the purpose of the Revolving Loan Fund is to support small business in Cook County without competing with other financial institutions.

Board Chair Ginny Storlie said the revolving loan serves the role of helping local businesses that need help.

Sivertson was a Cook County Commissioner as recently as January 2019. She served one term on the county board, opting not to run for re-election last year.