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$1.1M in loans, grants given to failed Springfield company

A former Springfield business failed to live up to nearly $1.1 million in publicly funded loans and incentives when it closed in 2008.

The company, em3 LLC, defaulted on a nearly $712,000 Small Business Administration loan when it closed, making it the fifth largest SBA loan default in a nine-county area and sent to the U.S. Treasury for collection.

But the defunct call center also defaulted on about $400,000 in local and state funding over the course of two years.

The Ohio Department of Development asked the Ohio Attorney General’s Office to collect $303,255 from owner Eugene Meyers III in court in 2009. The department didn’t have available the total amount it loaned Meyers through a minority business assistance loan.

“After the loan defaulted, the case was closed after the state determined there were no more collectible assets,” said Dan Tierney, a spokesman for the attorney general’s office.

Meyers couldn’t be reached for comment after multiple attempts to locate him.

In 2006, Springfield approved a more than $37,000 grant over three years to the business in exchange for creating 55 jobs. The city also approved a $75,000 loan through the Small Business Development Center.

The city of Springfield only paid about $2,700 worth of the job incentive grant to the business before it closed for good.

SBDC Executive Director Steve Anzur said he was unaware of the federal SBA loan and said he wondered why em3 needed that much money.

The company started in the SBDC building at 300 E. Auburn Ave. and then moved to the Southern Village Shopping Center at Selma Road and Sunset Avenue.

The business was a call center geared toward political campaigns, Anzur said. It planned to handle telemarketing efforts for city, state and federal candidates of both political parties.

“After a year or so, they ended up closing their business due to a lack of revenue and sales,” Anzur said. “(Meyers) thought he could get government contracts, but he was not successful.”

Tom Lagos, a local attorney and owner of the Southern Village Shopping Center, worked closely with Meyers to establish the business.

“They set up a very nice telemarketing facility, and he worked really hard to make it work,” Lagos said, citing multiple financial issues. When Meyers left, Lagos said he also was owed rent money.

Lagos filled the space recently with a Miami Valley Child Development office. But he hasn’t given up on trying to attract another call center to Clark County.

He said the number of “good people who are unemployed” make for an immediately available workforce and that property is cheap to acquire.

“It’s a perfect place to put a call center,” Lagos said.

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