Milind Sant is the CEO of LipoSpectrum, a startup company that holds the exclusive license to a lipid analysis technology developed at Washington University. He could have moved to the East or West Coast with his new startup. The fact that he’s staying in Missouri has a lot to do with the new Linked Deposit program, Treasurer Clint Zweifel’s brainchild.
I reported on it in July:
The low interest loans are called Linked Deposit Loans. Here’s how they work. If a borrower wants a loan of a hundred dollars to start, say, a t-shirt shop, she goes to the bank, which quotes her a five percent rate on the loan. But then the bank goes to the Treasurer’s office and says, “How about lending our bank $100 at two percent so that we can give this entrepreneur the loan at two percent instead of five?” If the Treasurer’s office agrees, the bank passes that savings along to the borrower: a two percent loan.
The new program, which Zweifel shepherded through the legislature last spring with a Republican sponsor in each chamber and with not a single dissenting vote, was officially kicked off at a press conference with Sant on Thursday. Zweifel (pictured above, listening to Sant explain the basics of the lipid analysis machinery) wanted to use LipoSpectrum as a poster child for the program because it exemplifies what we can do for Missouri by combining technological research with private enterprise and government help. Sant saved somewhere between two and three percent on the interest of his loan, which would save him 30 percent of what he eventually pays in interest, according to Zweifel.
Jo Mannies of The Beacon asked Sant if he would have stayed in Missouri had it not been for the advantage this Linked Deposit loan afforded him. He responded:
“Well, you know, for the last four years I’ve watched technologies being developed at Washington University and leaving the state of Missouri. And I would love to have many of those technologies stay right here. So when I came across, as this technology matured, I ideally wanted to keep it here in Missouri. So I’m happy that I could stay here and do this. Alternatively, there’s capital outside Missouri who would have been interested then–which I would have pursued. And the concept is so … it’s amenable to having it in the middle of the country with samples being sent from all over. It’s easier to send samples from the East or West Coast to Missouri than to send either from East to West Coast. So there’s an advantage of a centralized location.”
Short version: I wanted to stay in Missouri, and the Linked Deposit program made that practical. I could have gotten funding in other states, but this program helped me stay here.
Sant, then, is creating jobs in Missouri–Zweifel pointed out that 75 percent of the job creation in a recession comes from small businesses–and buffing up St. Louis’ reputation as a home to new technologies. Zweifel’s program will help not just that sort of business but P.R. firms and restaurants, green businesses and businesses that want to make their premises greener, even small local governments that need loans to improve their infrastructure. And all of these loans are completely safe for the state. The banks are taking the risk, while the state is encouraging entrepreneurs. That’s not just win/win; it’s win/win/win/win–for the businessman, the state, the bank, and the new employees.