Friday, December 3, 2010

Small Business Gets Boost from NeighborWorks Micro-Loan and Small Business Programs

Entrepreneurs and small businesses looking to start or incrementally expand their business should look to selected NeighborWorks local community development nonprofit organizations for a variety of financial and consulting assistance as these organizations plan to strategically support economic development by offering micro and small commercial business loans in 2011.

While not available throughout the NeighborWorks network, organizations from Long Island, NY to Austin, Texas and Lexington, KY and many others are honing their plans and tapping into new resources so that budding entrepreneurs and small businesses can create jobs in their communities.

"NeighborWorks organizations have housing at their core, but as a network we recognize that without a strong and diverse community economic base, sustainable housing solutions for families are extremely difficult,” said Eileen Fitzgerald, chief operating officer of NeighborWorks America.

One organization that is making a difference both in housing and business lending is Community Ventures Corp (CVC), a Lexington-based member of the NeighborWorks network for ten years. CVC recently received $605,000 in grants and loans from the U.S. Department of Agriculture out of a competitive process so that it could provide financial and technical assistance and training to rural micro-entrepreneurs.

In fact, CVC is the largest micro-enterprise business lender in the Small Business Administration system, making business loans as small as $500. Kevin Smith, president and CEO of CVC said, “Small businesses are having a tough time right now securing the capital they need to grow and create jobs. We’re excited by the opportunity to partner with small business and help these businesses and the communities they’re in become stronger.”

Another NeighborWorks organization that successfully mixes homeownership efforts with business development is BCL of Texas, an Austin-based nonprofit. BCL’s name literally means Business & Community Lenders and it has been helping small businesses grow for 20 years.

By offering a menu of free services to budding and existing business owners such as free business financial analysis, free business loan underwriting and no-cost loan structuring, BCL is a cost-conscious entrepreneur’s go-to resource. Also active in SBA lending, BCL has facilitated more than $200 million in SBA and other lending. Recently BCL was named administrator of the Balch Springs Micro Loan Fund, a $100,000 business development fund, and it also received a $605,000 grant from the USDA to provide financial and technical assistance to rural-based small businesses.

“Microloans make an important difference for a range of businesses,” said AR Ruiz, Director of Lending at BCL. “Small businesses traditionally account for the bulk of new jobs and we’re enthusiastic about doing our part and keeping our fingers on the pulse of the economy in our community.”

Back east, NeighborWorks network member Community Development Corporation of Long Island (CDCLI) sets a high, but accessible standard with its small business and microloan programs.

CDCLI also is a SBA lender and one of the more active in the region. Qualified borrowers can obtain loans as small as $1,000. Perhaps most interesting about the CDCLI effort is its childcare loan program, helping to finance daycare centers and qualifying in-home care facilities.

“The economics of today are clear – more households are two-wage earner families and to make that happen families need safe and affordable daycare,” said CDCLI President and CEO Marianne Garvin. “By helping to finance quality daycare, we simultaneously support small business and hard working families.”

For more information, contact Doug Robinson, 202-220-2360, .