Missouri State Treasurer Eric Schmitt visited Jerry’s Auto Body Thursday afternoon to highlight the state’s Linked Deposit Program.

The Union business is one of many in Franklin County to utilize the state program for expansion.

Each year $720 million of the state budget is set aside for loans to small businesses throughout the state at lower interest rates in an effort to stimulate the economy.

Schmitt said currently only $200 million of the program money has been used and he hopes to get the word out to other business owners and individuals it is available.

“This program is about economic development,” Schmitt said. “It’s a way to get money out on Main Street. The 11 guys that work here have families this is supporting as well.”

The loans are usually offered through local banks at a 2 to 3 percent interest rate that is locked in for five years.

“Everyone talks about small businesses being the backbone of the community,” Schmitt said. “We are actually doing something. We are doing what we can to get around the state and work with banks to raise awareness that this money is available.”

Jerry’s owner Jim Miller says he used the loan from the United Bank in Union to help with expansion costs on his shop that bears his father’s name.

According to the treasurer’s office, 97 percent of Missouri businesses are small businesses, and they employ 47 percent of the state’s workforce.

Schmitt was elected as state treasurer after serving in the Missouri Senate, where he was the chairman of the economic development committee.

He was sworn into office in January and essentially serves as the state’s chief financial officer.

“So far it’s been going great,” Schmitt said. “It’s great to work on programs like this and go out and see how it affects Missourians, while at the same time learning how we can streamline processes to better serve the citizens.”

United Bank Senior Vice President Keith Crews said his bank has used the Linked Deposit Program for years and currently has seven or eight loans in addition to Jerry’s Auto Body.