Revolving microloans will invest $2 million locally
By Gwendolyn Craig
A new public and private partnership announced on Monday will leverage $2 million in revolving small business loans for Adirondack Park entrepreneurs.
Called the Adirondack Small Business Opportunity Fund, the program includes $1 million combined from the Adirondack Foundation, the Cloudsplitter Foundation and the Weatherup Family Trust and a matching $1 million from Empire State Development.
Loans will be distributed through the Adirondack Economic Development Corp., which will also provide participating businesses with free short- and long-term counseling. The corporation is a nonprofit based in Saranac Lake for “business training, lending and technical assistance to underserved populations and to new and existing businesses throughout Northern New York State,” according to its website.
The local initiative is part of a larger $55.5 million statewide program called the Small Business Revolving Loan Fund 2. The program provides short-term capital for small businesses in economically disadvantaged areas, according to a release from Gov. Kathy Hochul’s office. The funds will typically be used for things like acquiring or improving property, buying machinery or equipment and refinancing debt.
“Ninety-eight percent of New York’s businesses have fewer than 100 employees and are a key driver of our economic growth,” Hochul said. “The Small Business Revolving Loan Fund 2 will bolster these small businesses, especially our minority and women entrepreneurs, and help build the economy of the future.”
Lori Bellingham, vice president of community impact at the Adirondack Foundation, said over 50% of small businesses in the Adirondacks are responsible for half of the receipts generated in the region. More than half of people employed in the Adirondacks are employed by small businesses. But, Bellingham said, there aren’t enough banks and lenders to accommodate these backbones of the community.
About a year ago, the Adirondack Foundation’s board decided to take a new route outside of its usual investments via grants. Board members decided the foundation would try “impact investing.”
Bellingham defined the practice as “making investments or loans that generate positive social impact first, financial return second.” So far, the foundation has made $1.4 million in such investments, targeting housing projects, small businesses and transportation.
“It comes back to the foundation’s mission of elevating the well-being of the people of the region, and this new focus on making capital available to be invested locally, in alignment with the greater community need,” Bellingham said.
Hope Knight, president, CEO and commissioner of Empire State Development, announced the new small business loan program in Saranac Lake on Monday.
“When our small businesses succeed, our communities succeed,” she said.
Victoria Duley, executive director of the Adirondack Economic Development Corp., said the fund will provide capital for start-up businesses, or gap financing for existing businesses with critical projects. “We are thrilled to be knocking down these barriers with long-term technical assistance and through provision of these low interest funds,” Duley said in a news release.
The Cloudsplitter Foundation, which supports the Adirondacks’ environment and economies, is providing $250,000 of the locally invested $1 million. The Weatherup Family Trust is also providing $250,000. Craig Weatherup, founding chairman and former CEO of the Pepsi Bottling Group, a trustee of the Adirondack Foundation and a board member of the Adirondack Explorer, said his family trust’s contribution intends to address the region’s “critical lack of young families.”
“As full-time residents of the Adirondacks, we are committed to seeing our neighbors and their communities prosper,” Weatherup said in a news release.
Hochul’s office said interest rates, terms and fees are worked out by the individual program lenders. To find out how to apply for a loan, contact the Adirondack Economic Development Corp., (518) 891-5523, or submit an inquiry at www.aedconline.com.
Adirondack policy, in plain speak.
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