A study conducted by the Corporation for Enterprise Development prompted the establishment of the Arkansas Community Loan Fund Association for collectively exchanging ideas and information about programs and capital resources. The association intends to promote economic development and increase the visibility of the revolving loan fund industry in the state.
Taryk Ferris and John Squires of the Community Resource Group (CRG) of Fayetteville led the efforts to start the association. Squires, CRG executive director, views it as a more effective way of providing access to credit for Arkansas' small businesses.
The revolving loan fund industry in Arkansas consists of 30 entities, including nonprofit community organizations, planning and development districts, and state agencies. According to the study, these organizations provide most of the high-risk, small business loan capital in the state. A revolving loan fund is a pool of funds structured so that loan payments are used to make more loans.
Even though the association is new, Deborah Slayton, vice president of Arkansas Enterprise Group (AEG) and association chairperson, already has realized some benefits. "It's easier to do my job because of the partnerships we've formed with the association's members," Slayton said. "The partnerships allow AEG to better meet its customers' needs not only through loan participations but also through technical advice from other loan fund administrators."
The association's future goals are to provide training opportunities for loan fund administrators, develop membership standards, access capital and increase the capacity of loan funds to extend credit to underserved markets. For additional information, contact Taryk Ferris at (501) 443-2700.