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New micro-lender program helps small and expanding businesses


STEVENS POINT, Wis. (WSAU) - There’s a new program designed to help new and small businesses get additional financing. The money comes from the U.S. Small Business Administration, and is now being administered in six central Wisconsin counties by CAP Services.

Mary Petoka from CAP Services says there was a geographical void in the area where small or expanding businesses had difficulty finding lenders to work with. That’s when they became involved as the SBA’s newest micro-lender.

Petoka says the new SBA dollars can be used for nearly any reasonable purpose. “The maximum size of the loan is fifty thousand dollars, but it can be used for everything from working capital, inventory, supplies, furniture, machinery, equipment, the kinds of things that a lot of small businesses need.”

She says start-up businesses can really benefit from this program. “We might be a little bit more flexible on some of that than a bank. I know some conventional banks have been hesitant to fund start-ups. I think that’s changing now, but this product really hopes to fill the gap that may exist in many of our communities.”

CAP Services is not new to business lending, but this new funding source gives them the ability to help in ways they couldn’t before because of other program guidelines. “We have been doing business lending for some time, but some of the funds that we have to use might have restrictions on it. The SBA probably has the least number of restrictions, and so it really brings another product that we can make available to our customers.” The Small Business Administration program is not the only business lending program CAP Services is involved with.

Petoka says they have the staff to help potential borrowers apply their business plan to the right program. “We have a product that’s for bigger loans. We have a product that’s only used in rural areas. We have another product that can only be used in businesses with less than ten employees, so we figure that out behind the scenes. People don’t need to worry about it” adding, “The SBA just brings one more option to the table for us.”

Anyone planning to start a new business should talk to people that have been through the process before. Petoka says they have counselors and a list of community resources to help people start right. “Really seek out some help. Getting a fresh set of eyes on what might be a plan or some financials really can maybe spot some things that people didn’t see, or maybe some opportunities that people didn’t see. There’s a lot of help in the community, and we would say just seek that out and it might save you some time and some mistakes.”

CAP Services just recently became involved with this particular SBA program, and they already have three loan applications going through the approval process. They serve the six county region of Portage, Outagamie, Marquette, Waupaca, Waushara and Wood counties.