Belden H. Daniels made an offer Utah officials couldn't refuse: He's so sure he can help find money for Utah small businesses that's he's offering the state a money-back guarantee.

Daniels, president of the Boston consulting firm of Community Development Inc., has been hired by the state Division of Community and Economic Development to explore expansion of the mission of the Utah Housing Finance Agency to include small business loans. The state has agreed to pay him $100,000 for his services, but he says he won't keep a dime of it if he doesn't produce.The reason for that kind of confidence? "We just choose good clients," Daniels said, "and the rest will follow. We think you've got a tremendous asset in this agency."

Indeed, it may well be that Daniels can't go wrong when dealing with an organization as strong as the Utah Housing Finance Agency. Next to the Intermountain Power Project, it is the largest importer of capital to the state and is a familiar name on Wall Street. It also finances 4,000 mortgages each year with a low default rate.

The details of Daniels' money-back guarantee are somewhat fuzzy at this point, largely because he and his associates haven't done enough preliminary work to tell exactly what can be accomplished. But he is certain he can find ways to attract new capital for use by small businesses.

Daniels was in town this week to meet with Gov. Norm Bangerter, Utah legislators and members of the business and banking community to get their feedback and make sure no one begins to feel threatened.

"Utah is a very conservative state," said David Adams, director of the Division of Community and Economic Development, "and it takes a long time to do things that are different. We want to make sure we take the necessary steps."

Adams said Daniels was hired to help address the longstanding problem small, rural businesses face in getting certain kinds of financing.

"Since I came to state government, I have heard from one end of the state to the other that small business people can't get loans in the rural areas for such things as financing for accounts receivable, inventory or work-in-progress," Adams said.

Daniels was hired based on his successes in other states. In Arkansas, for example, he took the state's housing finance agency and expanded it from a $750 million operation to a $1.5 billion agency. At his suggestion, the Arkansas agency borrowed money from major lending institutions based on the strengths of loans to small businesses, which would be guaranteed through good collateral or by the Small Business Administration. He also helped them create a statewide bonding pool that loans money for small community projects.