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Spanning the Region

Tuesday, October 1, 2002

New Tech Investment Fund Targets Research in Arkansas

An investment fund designed to finance new technology companies has been launched by a group of private investors in Arkansas.

The Alpha Fund provides working capital for the commercialization of promising new technologies developed at research universities and federal laboratories. The fund will target, but will not be restricted to, universities and laboratories in Arkansas.

Financing is targeted for the embryonic, research and development, and start-up phases of companies. Fund administrators anticipate investing between $50,000 and $500,000 per project.

The fund has a target of between $2 million and $5 million in investments for capitalization. The minimum investment in the fund is $25,000.

For information, contact David Lewis or John Nock at (479) 444-9700.

Indiana Partnership Explores Alternatives to Tobacco

Tobacco farmers in southern Indiana can find industry news and resources on a new web site created by the Indiana Tobacco Community Partnership. It is

The web site features the most recent tobacco and agriculture news, reports on value-added and community supported agriculture, and a list of educational resources.

The partnership's goal is to encourage interaction between tobacco stakeholders and community leaders and to help them explore alternative economic development. In addition, the partnership will develop pilot projects to help replace the loss of tobacco revenue in southern Indiana.

For information on the partnership, contact the Southern Indiana Rural Development Project at 1-800-816-0019 or

Arkansas Group to Operate VITA Sites

South Arkansas Community Development, a subsidiary of Summit Bancorp, is teaming up with the Internal Revenue Service to help low-income residents of Clark County electronically file their tax returns for free.

The development group and the IRS will operate two new Volunteer Income Tax Assistance (VITA) sites during the 2003 filing season. One will be at their office, 406 Clay St. in Arkadelphia, and will be staffed by the group and by Summit Bank employees. The location of the second site has yet to be determined but will be at a church with a predominantly Hispanic congregation. A Spanish-speaking member of the development group's staff will assist clients with their tax returns and inform them about other services, such as how to establish an individual tax identification number or secure a Social Security number.

Volunteers at both sites will assist taxpayers with filing for the Earned Income Tax Credit.

Participants will also be able to pick up information on financial literacy, homebuyer education programs and home ownership programs offered by the development group.

Micro Loans Are Available in St. Louis Metropolitan Area

Justine Petersen Housing & Reinvestment Corp., located in St. Louis and East St. Louis, Ill., last year became a Small Business Administration intermediary micro-loan lender. To date, the nonprofit corporation has originated $380,000 in loans to 53 borrowers. Loans range in size from $500 to $35,000, with an average loan of $7,000. New and existing for-profit corporations, partnerships and sole proprietorships with sales of less than $500,000 may apply. The service area includes the city of St. Louis and the counties of St. Louis, St. Charles, Jefferson, Warren and Franklin in Missouri and the counties of Clinton, Jersey, Madison and St. Clair in Illinois.

Call (314) 664-5051, ext. 0, for information.

Home Repair Program Targets Memphis Area

A new home-improvement program in Memphis will make loans at below-market interest rates available to low- and moderate-income residents.

Homeowners who live in Shelby County may be eligible to borrow up to $5,000 for home repairs. United Housing Inc., a nonprofit affordable-housing agency, will help homeowners find a reputable contractor and will keep tabs on work performance.

United Housing and National Bank of Commerce are teaming up to offer the Small Home Improvement Program. The Federal Home Loan Bank of Cincinnati made $100,000 available for the loans.

To qualify, borrowers' annual income cannot exceed $45,850 unless they live in low-income census tracts.

For information, call United Housing at (901) 272-1122, ext. 104, 109 or 115.