Lowell Small Business Assistance Center Microloan Fund

Community Teamwork, Inc. announces

the Lowell Small Business Assistance Center Microloan Fund

LOWELL, MA- June 1, 2011 – Karen Frederick, Executive Director of Community Teamwork, Inc., and Stacie Hargis, Director of the Lowell Small Business Assistance Center, announce the Lowell Small Business Assistance Center Microloan Fund Program.

The Lowell Small Business Assistance Center’s Microloan Fund Program will target low and moderate-income entrepreneurs in the Merrimack Valley who lack access to conventional credit but who have the capacity to achieve small business ownership.  The Fund will bridge the credit gap, helping businesses expand and grow, and make them bankable. Capacity is determined through business planning and successful financial analysis; and strengthened and monitored through continued technical assistance.

“The mission of the fund is to help create, strengthen, and expand businesses owned by low and moderate-income individuals in the region, infusing capital into small businesses and contributing to economic development,” says Center Director Stacie Hargis, noting that, “The Center anticipates making its first loan this fall.”


“A generous Parker Foundation challenge grant was the catalyst for the Center to leverage additional private funds to capitalize this microloan fund,” said Hargis. The Center approached community banks in the Merrimack Valley, in total, successfully raising $66,000.

Nine banks contributed at various levels.

  • Gold Level:
    • Boston Private Bank and Trust
  • Silver Elite Level:
    • Lowell Five
    • Enterprise Bank
    • Pentucket Bank
    • Eastern Bank
  • Silver Level:
    • Jeanne D’Arc
  • Bronze Elite Level:
    • LowellBank
    • Lowell Development and Finance Corporation
  • Bronze Level:
    • Washington Savings

To enhance the impact of the microloan fund, CTI applied for and successfully received a JOLI (Job Opportunities for Low Income) grant from the Department of Health and Human Services (HSS) to develop the Lowell Initiative to Further Entrepreneurship (LIFE) program, which will support self-employment and microenterprises of participants in CTI programs. These individuals will be trained in family child care, farming, and energy/construction related fields. Through the LIFE program, participants will take advantage of the Center’s entrepreneurial trainings and technical assistance, and then have the opportunity to apply for a microloan to start their business. The JOLI grant brings the total microloan fund amount to $116,000.

“This micro-loan program will provide technical assistance and financial resources to local business looking to grow and create jobs in the Merrimack Valley. CTI and the Lowell Small Business Assistance Center should be congratulated for securing this grant and for leveraging these federal dollars to assist additional local small businesses,” said Congresswoman Niki Tsongas.

“We are very grateful that our local community banks understood the importance of contributing to the start up of this loan fund to help bring capital to our local businesses,” said Karen Frederick. 

 “This was a great opportunity for our local banks to engage with entrepreneurs who can contribute to the region’s economic recovery, but are not able to through traditional credit channels; this is a partnership between the Center, the banks and businesses who will benefit by a path to bankability.” said Stacie Hargis, the Center’s Director.

The Lowell Small Business Assistance Center (LSBAC) was founded to provide entrepreneurs from ethnically and economically diverse groups with the education, tools and resources necessary to launch, expand and sustain small businesses. A program of Community Teamwork, Inc. (CTI), the Center works in collaboration with Middlesex Community College, the City of Lowell’s Department of Planning and Development and the University of Massachusetts Lowell. In its years of operation, the Center has provided over 11,400 services to over 2,800 people exploring the possibility of starting a small business, and has helped start over 300 businesses. In October of 2009 the Center embarked on this new initiative to become a Small Business Administration Microloan Intermediary serving low and moderate-income entrepreneurs and existing businesses in the Merrimack Valley.  To that end the Center applied for and received a SBA Program for Investment in Microentrepreneurs (PRIME) grant to develop the infrastructure necessary to support the operation of a microloan fund.

Massachusetts SBA District Director Robert Nelson said, “We are excited to hear of the progress and accomplishments of the Lowell Small Business Assistance Center and news on the recent capitalization of a small business loan fund.  Small businesses of Lowell now have an alternative source of capital which is so vitally important to our gateway cities in the Commonwealth.”  He added. “The SBA is pleased that our PRIME grant funding for the second year in a row has helped them to build capacity to help the underserved market in the Lowell area!”

“The Lowell Five is pleased to support this loan program through the LSBAC. On a personal level, I am pleased to come together with other bankers and community members to serve on the loan review committee. This is a great example of the community rallying around the importance of small business and helping non- traditional borrowers succeed,” said Amy Werner, Senior Vice President, Lowell Five.

“The LDFC is pleased to participate in the Microloan Fund Program that will assist small business owners to expand and grow.  We look forward to working with Stacie and the Lowell Small Business Assistant Center in this endeavor,” said Jim Cook, Executive Director of the Lowell Development and Finance Corporation.

“We proudly support the Lowell Small Business Assistance Center Microloan Fund.  We believe deeply in the mission of the fund and the opportunities it creates for entrepreneurs in the Merrimack Valley.  The fund provides the seed capital to bring new ideas to commercial application leading to employment opportunities and a positive impact on the quality of life for its participants,” said Chester J. Szablak, Jr, Chief Sales and Marketing Officer of Enterprise Bank.

Boston Private Bank is especially pleased to help capitalize the Lowell Small Business Assistance Center’s Microloan Fund Program with a Gold Level sponsorship”, said Esther Schlorholtz, Boston Private Bank’s Director of Community Investment.  “We have supported the innovative work of the Center for a number of years, and we are excited to be part of their new initiative that will help very small businesses with critical funding and business development support.  In this challenging economy, initiatives such as this that leverage private dollars with public funds are very important ways to generate new jobs and opportunities in our communities.”

“Eastern Bank is dedicated and committed to helping businesses of all sizes grow and prosper,” said Eastern Bank President Bob Rivers.  “We are proud to support this program, which will help grow local businesses and ultimately create jobs in the area.”

“LowellBank’s mission is to support small businesses within our community and we are proud to participate in the Small Business Center’s Microloan Fund Program which will help entrepreneurs to fulfill their dreams of operating their own business,” Richard E. Bolton, Chairman/President & CEO of LowellBank.

For more information about the Lowell Small Business Assistance Center Microloan Fund Program, please contact Stacie Hargis directly at 978-322-8400 or shargis@comteam.org.


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