By Alex Polacco
St. Cloud State University has developed a Microlending Program to encourage business and economic growth in the local community. The program currently supports new and existing entrepreneurs in St. Cloud, Sartell, Sauk Rapids, Waite Park, and St. Augusta; but will expand its customer base to include a wider area in the future. Serving a segment of the entrepreneurial market that does not qualify for conventional loans, the program provides loans that range from $500 to a maximum of $25,000. The program also provides technical assistance, education, and other resources to applicants. Aspirants can take advantage of the knowledge support provided by: SCORE, a group of retired executives who serve as business consultants; Legal Core, free 30 minutes of legal advice; and SCSU’s centers for Economic Education and Continuing Education.
The program’s full range of services ensures that entrepreneurs are supported with all the tools they need in order to develop and succeed in their enterprises. SCORE’s consultants have owned and managed businesses and bring years of experience to bear in advising the aspirant about shortcuts and strategies that can help them to succeed. Legal advice is a necessary part of any business endeavor, and the Legal Core advice can help the aspirant to ensure that legal implications have been considered in the decision process. Academic support from the University’s economic and continuing education programs provides the aspirant with valuable knowledge about how to develop and sustain the business. Beyond technical advice, the program offers business workshops, peer group meetings, office facility resources, and community agency referrals.
SCSU’s vision is to partner with other organizations and businesses to create a sustainable community. The university has partnered with the McKnight Foundation, the SBA (Small Business Administration), and the SBDC (small business development corporation) in the creation and support of the microloan program. The program has an application and selection process, and qualification criteria.
For further information please contact: St. Cloud State University Microloan Program, 616 Roosevelt Road, Suite 100; St. Cloud, MN 56301. Ph: 320-308-2500.