Photo By Graham County Chamber of Commerce: Local First Arizona has announced a new micro-loan program for businesses in Graham County.
Safford – Local First Arizona Foundation is building opportunity for local businesses in Graham County in partnership with Freeport-McMoRan through the new Graham County Micro-Loan Program. This new program will offer loans in smaller amounts to local businesses in the Graham County area to help them stay competitive in a continuously changing economy.
“Capital is like oxygen for small businesses, and small businesses in rural communities have recently had a challenging time getting the capital they need to grow and expand their businesses,” said Kimber Lanning, Executive Director of Local First Arizona Foundation. “We identified a gap in the market because we found that larger banks are increasingly shying away from smaller loan amounts because that’s not what is best for their bottom line.”
One person who has been impacted by this trend is Joe Goodman, a restaurant owner in Pima and also Community Development Director for Graham County.
“We’ve had multiple incidents where getting a small loan was nearly impossible,” Goodman said. “One was when we wanted to convert a storage building into a walk-in fridge and freezer and upgrade our front counter space. We finally ended up going through an equipment leasing company, but we had to pay 12 percent interest on a $25,000 loan with no ability to pay off early. Due to lack of options, we were forced to lock into a high-interest rate.”
Lanning says she’s heard stories like Joe’s all over Graham County.
“The difficulty that local businesses and organizations face in accessing capital to grow and expand is not only incredibly frustrating but it is stunting our statewide economic growth,” she said. “We’re thankful to have Freeport-McMoRan stepping in with us to help offer local businesses in Graham County the resources that they need to succeed and build prosperity in their communities.”
According to Freeport-McMoRan Safford General Manager Jeff Monteith, “Access to capital is a pinch point for small businesses. Accordingly, Local First’s Micro Loan Program proposal was very well-received by our grants committee. They determined it to be strongly aligned with a goal to achieve measurable results to increase business development, attraction, and retention – a key strategy for economic diversification in Graham County.”
Businesses and startups in all industries located in Graham County will be able to apply for loans from the Graham County Micro-Loan Program. The loan fund will be managed by the Community Investment Corporation, and loan applications will be reviewed by a steering committee of local community members, including:
- Ashley Arrellin, Washington Federal Bank
- Armando Carrillo, National Bank of Arizona
- Casey Clayton, Freeport-McMoRan Safford Operations
- Devin Gillespie, One AZ Credit Union
- Vaughn Grant, Country Financial
Potential loan applicants can visit https://www.localfirstazfoundation.org/az-microloans to find and submit the loan application to be considered. Loan applications should be submitted to Brian Quijada at firstname.lastname@example.org or fax 520-257-2647.
In tandem, the Graham County Leadership Cohort will host a Shark Tank event for entrepreneurs Nov. 1 at the David M. Player Center for the Arts with up to $20,000 in prizes available to winning participants. For more information on the Shark Tank event visit facebook.com/SharkTankGrahamCounty.
The Graham County Micro-Loan Program is part of Local First Arizona Foundation’s portfolio of rural economic and community development programming in conjunction with the Arizona Rural Development Council. Other initiatives include the Arizona Rural Policy Forum, WeekendZona, Copper Corridor Supplier Source, Solutions For Rural Development Webinars, and more. More information on Local First Arizona Foundation’s rural programming is available at https://www.localfirstazfoundation.org/growing-arizonas-small-town-economies/.
About Local First Arizona Foundation
Local First Arizona Foundation (LFAF) works to strengthen local economies and build opportunity for all Arizonans to create an economy that is sustainable, resilient, and celebratory of diverse cultures. LFAF focuses on a wide range of strategic initiatives that target systems of inequity. These initiatives include powering Arizona’s entrepreneurs through the Fuerza Local Business Accelerator Program; celebrating Arizona’s homegrown foods through the Healthy Local Foods Initiatives, and strengthening Arizona’s small-town economies through the Arizona Rural Development Council and other rural programming. LFAF is the sister organization to Local First Arizona, where both work hand-in-hand to strengthen Arizona’s economy. Find more information at localfirstazfoundation.org.