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Where is the money?

CarleeMcCullough-160When moving forward in various businesses, often times there is a need for additional capital. Whether it is for the purpose of purchasing equipment, operating capital, or contract financing, most business can always use additional funding.

Unfortunately, many business owners wait until their backs are up against the wall in a desperate situation, which it is usually too late to ask for assistance. Most financing institutions want to know that you are stable and can repay the debt, not at the end of the road on the brink of bankruptcy unless you obtain more capital.

Where can you turn for assistance for loans?

Banks are always available but have tightened their purse strings across the board. Businesses have looked for alternative funding sources for their capital needs. The Renaissance Business Center (RBC) has quietly served the community for years. Located at 555 Beale, the RBC has issued loans to qualified applicants, issued limited contractor licenses and provided advice on business in general.

A self-described "one-stop-shop," the RBC provides businesses and owners with free training, counseling, and information to support their entry into the marketplace or their growth and development, if already established. According to its website, the RBC offers a number of loan programs to meet a small business's needs.

Specific loan programs

The major loan programs available at the RBC include:

City of Memphis Micro-Loan Program: This program is designed to enhance job growth and/or retention by providing small businesses with access to alternative financing for working capital, inventory, façade improvements, equipment, etc. The non-traditional loan program takes other things into consideration other than credit. Your business must be located in the city limits and have the cash flow to service and support the debt. Startups and existing businesses may qualify for this fund. Collateral is needed and may include equipment, contracts and real estate. The RBC will even serve in a subordinate position or as a second lien.

Contractors Assistance Lending Program: The program offers a revolving loan fund to provide contractors with non-traditional lending options for contract financing, equipment purchases, etc. Ability to repay will be weighed heavily.

Grow Memphis Fund: The fund provides businesses with access to capital beyond that available from conventional lending sources for working capital, fixed assets and inventory. It is designed to support job creation and the growth and expansion of eligible firms as a part of the city's Memphis Economic Growth Initiative. The requirements are more similar to traditional banking or Small Business Administration lending guidelines, which means that the criteria for qualification is more stringent than that of the Micro Loan Program. The business has to create jobs and the loan limit is $1,000,000.

Business owners must complete a business plan, have up-to-date financials and all tax issues in order. The RBC provides a counselor to help negotiate the process.

Contractors Assistance Lending Program (CAP): The RBC provides technical assistance and training related construction. It offers a limited contractor's license up to $70,000 and certification classes in lead and mold remediation. The center also offers a plans room for the contractors to review various plans, bonding and insurance assistance.

The RBC also houses the following resource providers:

Small Business Administration (SBA): The SBA helps entrepreneurs and existing owners to start, build or grow their businesses. The SBA also guarantees loans. Visit http://www.sba.gov.

Tennessee Small Business Development Center (TSBDC): TSBDC provides counseling, business planning and marketing assistance, training and cash flow analysis to start-up entrepreneurs and existing business owners. TSBDC is a network of professional business consultants providing expert business advice to all types of businesses. There is no charge for counseling. For more information, visit www.tsbdc.org.

Black Business Association (BBA): The BBA is a non-profit 501 (c) (3) corporation established in 1974 and is the largest trade association of its kind in the Mid-South. BBA members unite behind the goal of empowerment through entrepreneurship and improvement of business and growth opportunities for minority and women owned businesses. Primary services include one-on-one sales and marketing consulting. For details, visit www.bbamemphis.com.

Memphis Area Minority Contractor's Association (MAMCA): MAMCA was established in 1974 to assist minority and women contractors. Technical assistance, training, access to plans and support are offered in all phases of construction. For details, visit www.memphisminoritycontractors.com.

(Contact Carlee McCullough, Esq., at 5308 Cottonwood Road, Suite 1A, Memphis, TN 38118, or email her at This email address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it. .)


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