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ECSU seeking $20M loan from USDA

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By Reggie Ponder
Staff Writer

Monday, December 11, 2017

Elizabeth City State University officials hope to get an answer by the end of February on the approval of a $20 million loan from the U.S. Department of Agriculture.

The university is seeking the $20 million, 40-year loan from USDA to save interest costs by refinancing $10 million in existing debt andl provide the $10 million needed for renovating Butler Hall and Bias Hall.

ECSU Chancellor Thomas Conway presented an update on the USDA loan process to the university's second Working Group at the panel's meeting Wednesday morning. The chancellor told the group that an architectural study is being done to refine the cost estimate for upgarding two residence halls.

The architectural study is expected to be completed by the holiday break and all information should be sent to USDA by the end of December or the first of January, he said.

Conway said he expects an answer from USDA by the end of February.

This is ECSU's second working group. The first working group was convened by UNC President Marget Spellings in the fall of 2016.

Based on its early discussions the initial working group was divided into two subcommittees, one of which was charged with identifying "a financing mechanism which addresses financial sustainability and capital needs,” according to a summary of the group's work prepared by UNC General Administration.

The goals pursued by the working group were to provide the university with cash flow relief in the near-term to address budgetary shortfalls and provide funding for program and enrollment initiatives, restructure existing debt to reduce capital costs and to fund $10 million in critical infrastructure investments.

The working group one looked at two alternatives and chose to pursue a 40-year, fixed-rate loan through the United States Department of Agriculture’s Community Facilities Direct Loan Program.

University officials expect a two-year construction period after the $20 million loan is approved.

The project consists of the renovation of Butler Hall and Bias Hall, and the demolition of Hugh Cale Hall and Doles Hall.

Renovations of the two campus residence halls should be completed sometime in 2020.

Both Butler and Bias will be used as residence halls.

The three-story Butler Hall was built in 1924 and named for John Henry Manning Butler, the second teacher at the institution. The building had a 1939 addition, as well as previous renovations in 1983 and 1994.

Bias Hall, a three-story structure built in 1938, has been renovated a number of times in its nearly 80-year history. The building is named for John Henry Bias, the institution's second president.

The project budget is $10 million and will be fully funded through the USDA loan.

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