Alliance Creates Resource to Fund Business Growth

by RaeAnne Marsh

Expected to help kick-start the flow of capital to businesses for loans they need to grow, At Work for Arizona Business Loan Alliance launched last month with $12 million committed to fund loans of $50,000 to $500,000 to businesses that lack adequate equity investment or sufficient collateral for a conventional loan but are otherwise creditworthy.

Forging this groundbreaking business-loan collaboration are governmental development authorities (the City of Phoenix and the County of Maricopa industrial development authorities and the Arizona Commerce Authority), community banks (Biltmore Bank of Arizona, Sonoran Bank and West Valley National Bank), a nonprofit (the Phoenix Community Development and Investment Corporation) and a private-sector partner (SCF Arizona, the state’s largest provider of workers’ compensation insurance). To the $1 million from each of the development authorities, $2 million from each of the banks and up to $3 million from the ACA — from its $18.2-million Arizona Innovation Accelerator Fund — SCF Arizona has committed $1.2 million to guarantee up to 20 percent of qualified loans. The alliance is expected to operate for approximately 12 months or until the funds are fully deployed, and there is no requirement that applicants have an account at any of the participating banks or be an SCF policyholder.

“The idea behind this innovative alliance was to bring together Arizona-based lending institutions that really understand local markets and have the flexibility to think outside the box,” says Roberto E. Franco, CEO of the Phoenix Community Development and Investment Corporation, which will serve as the first point of contact for borrowers. “Understandably, banks have had to re-evaluate their lending practices, but the timing couldn’t be better for investing in Arizona business. The past few years have been extremely difficult for business owners and only the solid performers are still operating.”

“An important aspect of the Business Loan Alliance is that, in addition to the banks’ regularly required financial statements, borrowers must demonstrate job creation, job retention or higher-quality jobs,” notes Charles P. Thompson, president of the Industrial Development Authority of the County of Maricopa. “This provision is directly in line with our mission to help maintain and/or create higher-value jobs throughout the county.”

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