The Herald Bulletin

Afternoon Update

Local Business

May 14, 2013

Emmett Dulaney: Micro lending strives for big heights

ANDERSON, Ind. — Every now and then, a topic will come along that you hear a great deal about but don’t really understand what it is. In the world of IT, for example, “cloud computing” could fall into this category since everyone talks about it but the definition of what it actually is changes to fit whoever has something to peddle at the moment. Similarly, around central Indiana the Microloan Program is something that I have heard a great deal about, but have had difficulty fully understanding exactly what it is.

For assistance, I turned to Adam Tidrow. Adam is a student at Anderson University and an intern working with the Microloan Program. The words that follow, and run until the conclusion of this column, are his and I hope that if there are others who were confused, this will help remedy some of that.

“Entrepreneurs and small business owners are flooding our communities and we need to take the sandbags down. Individuals who have decided to risk it all on an idea or a product are ready to claim their victory but there is one huge levee before them: funding. With a mortgage, book fees, and the endless school fundraising efforts, entrepreneurs need funding on their terms. But who is here to help us?

The Flagship Enterprise Center’s Microloan Program targets small and emerging ventures who are looking for loans that are too small for a bank’s portfolio but are just too hefty for Grandma’s pocket book. Issuing loans totaling more than $400,000 since its inception in 2010, the Microloan Program secured its spot as the No. 1 Microlender in the State of Indiana in 2012. Small businesses and start-ups scare banks (I can tell you from my own experience). Even when a business is looking for just five or seven thousand dollars to get them to the next stage of development or buy a new piece of machinery, banks find these ventures too risky; there just isn’t enough cash or history in the ledger.

It’s a catch-22. Banks would love to see you in a few years, but you won’t make it six months without these funds. Through the Flagship, businesses can apply for as little as $1,000 and for as much as $50,000 with interest rates between 6 and 10 percent. Their program is centered around the needs of the client, as is demonstrated by the more than 500 hours spent by the Flagship’s staff in advisory roles to their clients.

A limited or blemished credit history or low levels of collateral are not an instant turn-off with the Flagship.

The program is designed to help fuel small business growth and development through cooperation and partnership, rather than a simple cash transaction.  

The Microloan Program is not a permanent fix to financial woes, but, if used efficiently, can be just the jump-start a company needs to be able to expand into selling cupcakes or delve into the used-pontoon sales game.

Whatever your needs as a small business owner, the Flagship can help you break through those barricades. Why wouldn’t you want to move those sandbags?”

Emmett Dulaney is the author of several books on technology and an Anderson resident. His column appears Tuesdays.

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