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North Alabama Revolving Loan Fund achieves CDFI certification to help more businesses grow

The North Alabama Revolving Loan Fund (NARLF) is now the only small business fund of its kind in the state now certified by the U.S. Department of the Treasury’s Community Development Financial Institution.

The NARLF, a subsidiary of Huntsville-based nonprofit organization Neighborhood Concepts, Inc. (NCI), recently received CDFI certification and a $106,150 Technical Assistance award.

NCI’s mission is to “strengthen neighborhoods through the provision of affordable housing and fostering of economic opportunities.” The group does this by providing microloans to north Alabama small businesses with more flexibility than most regulated financial institutions.

“Although NARLF currently provides small business loans throughout all of north Alabama, CDFI certification will provide additional tools allowing NARLF to focus on underserved census tracts in Colbert, Lauderdale, Lawrence, Limestone and Madison counties,” said Mary Ellen Judah, NCI’s executive director.

NCI first submitted a grant application to the CFDI Fund for technical assistance in November 2014. The organization was one of 29 in the U.S. to receive an award, which will be used to bolster operations, offer staff training and buy new equipment.

There were 13 CFDI institutions in Alabama and 951 across the U.S. as of August 2015, according to NCI. Judah said certification increases NCI’s access to financial assistance from the CDFI Fund, partnership opportunities with banks seeking Bank Enterprise Awards, New Market Tax Credits and private sector capital.

“CDFI certification allows NARLF to provide access to credit to small businesses and entrepreneurs in North Alabama on a much greater scale,” she said.

In addition to microloans, NCI provides business development resources to clients. Loan recipients should support a local healthy food economy, create or retain jobs for low-to-moderate income residents, or provide needed services in underserved neighborhoods.

NCI launched the loan fund in late 2012 using $300,000 in seed money from the Food Bank of North Alabama. A year later, the city of Huntsville’s Community Development Department committed $250,000 to the fund, bringing NCI’s lending capital to more than $500,000.

The fund has provided approximately $400,000 in loans to entrepreneurs since its inception. A Cup of Everything, Red Gingham Gourmet, Food Fighter Bustaurant, G3 Machining, designbyhart, Just 4 the Kids Daycare and others have taken advantage of the program to jumpstart their businesses.

October 21, 2015

By Lucy Berry |

Small Business

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