Editor's note: Partner Profiles is a recent feature of our blog. Over time, NH SBDC will publish Q&As with our partners across New Hampshire.
Hi Liz, tell us about the New Hampshire Community Loan Fund. What is its mission – its reason for being?
The New Hampshire Community Loan Fund was established in 1983 with two powerful ideas: One, that many people with low incomes can become more self-sufficient and participate in the economy if they have access to fair sources of credit. Two, that community-minded people and organizations would invest in providing opportunity for their neighbors—when they were confident their money would be used wisely, responsibly and for maximum impact.
We were created to bridge those two groups. We provide the financing and educational tools people need to have affordable homes, quality jobs, and child care, and to become financially independent.
Our largest and best-known program, ROC-NH, has helped 131 groups of manufactured-home-park residents purchase and cooperatively manage their communities, preserving more than 8,000 permanently affordable homes. We also lend to child care centers and nonprofit organizations to support vital community services, and to small businesses to help them grow and create high-quality jobs.
How does the Community Loan Fund help businesses in New Hampshire?
We provide flexible capital and customized technical assistance. Our work starts by getting to know each business owner, his or her goals, and their underlying reasons for raising capital. We shape our loan or investment to fit the strategic needs of the business. Since the vast majority of our capital comes from private (non-government) sources, we can be highly flexible in crafting creative solutions. Our geographic focus is businesses located in NH or in bordering towns (like Kittery, ME or Brattleboro, VT) as the economic impact of these border communities is felt in New Hampshire.
We feature referrals to a network of skilled business advisors and resources, including NH SBDC. We provide grants to businesses that need specialized assistance to become growth-ready or to realize their next level of growth. We often help business leaders establish their own advisory boards to solicit strategic business advice from a multidisciplinary group of smart volunteer or paid experts.
We’ll provide capital for acquisition, growth, equipment, real estate, and more.
What is the Business Builder program and who does it help?
We provide Business Builder loans of up to $1 million (or more with other participating lenders) and feature flexible collateral requirements. We can be the lead lender, or we can work in partnership with traditional banks and/or other alternative lenders. Interest rates and terms of our loans vary depending on the loan’s purpose and structure and may include interest-only periods. Most of our Business Builder borrowers are Main Street-type companies, manufacturers, restaurants, or farms, fisheries, or food producers.
And what is the Vested for Growth program and how does it help businesses?
Vested for Growth invests in high-growth, high-margin businesses with experienced managers and a commitment to grow by engaging their people. VFG can provide investments of up to $750,000 (or higher with partner investors). VFG specializes in royalty investments, which means repayment is based on a company’s future performance, not its past record. Unlike equity investments, our participation is non-dilutive and non-controlling. Structures that combine our various loan and investment tools are also possible, depending on the business need. The VFG portfolio mostly comprises manufacturers, tech companies, and food and renewable energy businesses.
As Director of the Business Finance program, tell us a bit about yourself and your role.
As Business Finance Director, I lead a team that provides capital and technical assistance to small businesses, community services (like child care centers and nonprofits), and affordable housing developers. Before coming to the New Hampshire Community Loan Fund in the fall of 2017, I spent 12 years in the organic dairy industry at Stonyfield in roles spanning project and program management, supply chain and milk-sourcing strategy, financial analytics, and communications.
I’m very glad to be part of this talented team doing great work serving NH businesses and communities.
Who should business owners connect with on the Business Finance team?
For general Business Finance inquiries, business owners should call us at (603) 224-6669 or send an email to firstname.lastname@example.org. One of our team members will get back to you. When you contact us, there is no need for you to know whether you are more suited for Business Builder or Vested for Growth – we’ll discover that with you!
How does the Community Loan Fund partner with the NH SBDC?
We often refer business owners to NH SBDC when we see they would benefit from one-on-one business coaching or business plan development. We love it when we can provide a helpful referral to a business who may not be quite ready for our capital – and we know that we may see them come back to us after working with the NH SBDC, better positioned and ready for growth capital.
We are excited to find more ways to partner to help NH businesses.
Thank you for telling us more about the New Hampshire Community Loan Fund, Liz. We at NH SBDC look forward to continuing to partner with you to help NH businesses.