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Grant from Lake County Economic Development Commission to statewide small-business lender will boost Lake County firms
The Lake County Economic Development Commission (LCEDC) is issuing a grant for $750,000 to the Community Investment Fund of Indiana (CIFI). The funds will provide loans and technical assistance to small businesses in Lake County.

CIFI loans funds to Indiana's smallest businesses. Most are minority-owned, newer businesses or in rural areas and may not qualify for conventional financing or may need additional funding to support growth. CIFI is funded by Indiana banks, other business organizations and grants.

The Lake County Community Economic Development Department oversees the grant administration for the Commission and several other programs that provide small business finance services in Lake County.

Timothy Brown, executive director of the Lake County Community Economic Development Department, says, "We aim to create as many new jobs as possible with this new partnership with CIFI. CIFI offers us the opportunity of stretching our funds to provide loans for smaller businesses in the range of $50,000 to $100,000."

Brown also says, "Previously approved projects by the Commission include manufacturing and food processing companies that need buildings and specific equipment such as robotic welding machines, industrial saws and freezers. And most recently the seed funds for the new Hammond Data Center"

CIFI board of directors' member Sharron Liggins of Gary says, "Every dollar of this grant will come back to Lake County, along with funding from CIFI. The Lake County and CIFI relationship is a proactive economic partnership, which will improve the viability and visibility of small but vital businesses that add to economic growth. This includes increasing job opportunities and specialized product delivery and exceptional customer service." Liggins has been active in Lake County economic development, homelessness and supportive and affordable housing activities for more than 15 years as executive director of the Continuum of Care Network of NWI,Inc.

Phil Black, CIFI executive director, says, "CIFI is pleased to work in partnership with the Northwest Indiana Reinvestment Alliance, the Economic Development Commission, and Lake County Community Economic Development Department to secure organizational support and funding. This new working relationship is a tremendous leap forward for financing under-served and under-capitalized local businesses. This will help us create new bank partnerships too as we look at ways to ready our customers to graduate to bank financing."

Black continues "many of our borrowers are the smallest companies that request loans of $10,000 to $50,000 for supporting general working capital needs. They fall under the radar of many other lending programs."

As of 2018, CIFI has loaned $2.6 million and created or sustained over 100 jobs while providing assistance to over 30 small companies.

Background:

Community Investment Fund of Indiana (CIFI) (www.capitalizingindiana.org) provides loans and access to community development services to small businesses, low-income individuals, economic development groups and housing developers in low-and-moderate income areas of Indiana. CIFI is a private non-profit lender funded by banks and other members of the Indiana business community. Banks can get a CRA Credit for investing in CIFI. CIFI has loaned $2.6 million to more than 30 Indiana companies, creating or saving over 100 jobs.

CIFI is co-managed by Cambridge Capital Management Corp. of Indianapolis. For over 34 years, Cambridge Capital has provided non-traditional financing to small businesses located throughout Indiana. (www.cambridgecapitalmgmt.com)

Lake County Economic Development Commission in conjunction with the Community Economic Development Department (www.lakecountyin.org/portal/group/economic-devl/page/default) provides business finance services through a variety of programs. It provides ac-cess to business capital through the Lake County Revolving Loan Fund (RLF) and a number of other business finance and business assistance programs. This can be direct assistance or indirect assistance via referral. Funding sources include; Community Development Block Grant (CDBG) funds, the U.S. Small Business Administration (SBA) Loans, the Indiana Department of Commerce (IDOC), Tax Increment Financing (TIF) and Industrial Development Revenue Bonds (IDBs), and loan participation with the Commercial Banking Community.

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