Microloan program established to help area small businesses

HUNTSVILLE, Ala. - A new microloan program is established to assist small businesses as they grow, The Catalyst Center for Business and Entrepreneurship announced Monday.

The Catalyst supports entrepreneurs and business owners as they work to lift a business off the ground. They use education and coaching to help people get started.

Now, through a partnership with Redstone Federal Credit Union and Neighborhood Concepts, they can add a microloan program to the mix. The loans would be from $5,000 to $25,000 in size and be available to startups, early-stage businesses, and established small businesses.

The hope is that these smaller loans will fill a gap to keep small businesses going or help them get going in the first place.

Redstone FCU will provide the funds. Neighborhood Concepts, a Huntsville-based non-profit that encourages economic growth, will make the loans. The Catalyst will, according to a press release, provide loan support services before and after the loan is made.

For Emmie Mayne, who utilized coaching from The Catalyst as she launched her business, Lightning and Lace, these loans sound like a good idea.

"If I could have had this same sort of loan two years ago with these rates, and this sort of backing to it, that would have been wonderful," she said as she spoke to us from her Lowe Mill studio.

“Small businesses make up 94-percent of the companies in the Huntsville metro area. Many of these are small shops and start-ups that need immediate access to microloans to stay afloat until the next big order or contract comes through,” said Joe Newberry, president and CEO of Redstone Federal Credit Union through a press release. “Redstone is proud to partner with these two non-profits to provide that much-needed funding boost and give these businesses a better chance at success.’’

“Neighborhood Concepts has been offering loans for small businesses since 2013. This partnership will mean much more visibility in the marketplace for our loan fund and we welcome the small business coaching and training The Catalyst will provide. Neither of our organizations could make this work without the funding provided by Redstone. We think this is a win/win/win for our organizations, but most importantly for the small business owners and entrepreneurs in this area," said John Thornton, Loan Fund Manager at Neighborhood Concepts in a press release.

“There is a gap in funding for startups and early-stage businesses,” said Catalyst CEO Joanne Randolph, in a new release. “This microloan program will fill that gap---it’s just what a lot of our clients need to get started or grow to that next level.”

A news release stated that The Catalyst will be offering a monthly Loan Clinic the first Tuesday of every month beginning on Tuesday, August 7, 8:30-9:30 a.m., at their location at 515 Sparkman Drive.