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Small businesses lean on community lenders
Report: More rely on N.C. development institutions
Published Monday, December 17, 2012 11:48 am
by Stephanie Carson, N.C. News Service

OAKBORO In today's economy, its not easy for a small-business owner such as Tim Liescheidt to get a loan to build his business outside Charlotte.

Traditional lenders say they cant take the risk and the Small Business Administration told him his start-up steel business was too small. That's when Liescheidt applied for and received a $50,000 loan that enabled him to finance projects. He now has $3 million worth of business orders to fill, thanks to that loan from The Support Center.

It becomes a house of cards at that point, he said. It just flows, because then we made a little money on that job and were able to take that money and finance a little bit bigger job, and take that money and finance a little bit bigger job.

A report released today by The Support Center, a community development financial institution in Raleigh, found that lenders like them have helped start 33,000 businesses in the state, creating 3,100 jobs. CDFIs have existed for 18 years, providing loans to small businesses unable to secure loans through traditional sources.
In 2011, according to today's report, the 999 CDFIs nationwide made 16,000 loans and investments, totaling $1.2 billion. That created 25,000 jobs. Its a boost that Lenwood Long, president and CEO of The Support Center, believes the state couldn't live without.

We see ourselves as a vital player in the economic recovery of this state, because there's no question that over 70 percent of small businesses drive the economy, he said.

CDFIs are made possible through public and private investments. Long believes the state should consider additional investment in institutions such as this to further spur economic growth and recovery in the state.


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