The Center for Empowerment and Economic Development in Ann Arbor has earmarked $500,000 in microloans for Oakland County small businesses over the next 18 months. Since the two entities first formed a partnership in 2010, CEED has provided $1.1 million in microloans, enabling the county to retain 75 jobs and create 100 positions.
“Since 83 percent of Michigan businesses are comprised of five or fewer employees, it’s critical that these microloans are available to them,” says Michelle Richards, CEED’s executive director. The organization loans $5,000 to $50,000 to small businesses that have been turned down by banks. “Our mission is to help small businesses, and we take our mission seriously.”
Audrey David, owner of DataGration, a Southfield-based firm that specializes in legal and medical transcription and staffing services, is among those who have benefited from the program. “I was factoring my invoices for many years. This is where you take your invoices to a company and they pay you your money up front, but they also charge high fees for that service. I was losing a lot of money doing this,” she says.
While David was denied loans through traditional banking programs, she was able to secure a loan through CEED. As a result, she no longer factors invoices. “It’s allowed me to meet my payroll and has put me in a better cash-flow position,” she says, adding that her company, which employs 25 people, has been in business since 1987.
CEED also provides resources such as proposal writing, sales and marketing, relocation, and mentoring. In David’s case, CEED helped her successfully obtain a multimillion-dollar contract.
“We take a look at an application and determine what the business owner needs to be successful,” Richards says. “Money is only one of the ingredients. The other ingredients may include assistance with bidding for larger contracts or marketing assistance.”
Last year, the microloan program received 19 applications and approved about a third of them. “We’re looking for a business that is viable and that they’re someone we can have a productive working relationship with,” Richards says.
For more information, visit miceed.org or call 734-677-1400.