A funding success for small biz

Culture_Currency(2).JPGFinancing is tight these days, but the Tennessee Rural Opportunity Fund is finding a way to get money into the hands of small businesses.

The fund — a public-private partnership — recently received the 2010 National Community Reinvestment Award from the Federal Financial Institutions Examination Council.

The partnership includes the state of Tennessee, members of the Tennessee Bankers Association and Southeast Community Capital Corp., a Nashville based lender.

Since its start in 2007, 44 small, minority- and women-owned businesses have received more than $9 million through the fund.

That’s a relatively small amount of money, but in today’s lending climate any funding source is welcome — especially when the money goes to small businesses.

Businesses that borrowed capital throuth the fund have some 200 new jos were created and another 400 jobs retained. The fund expects to generate $25 milion in loans for more than 350 businesses that are expected to create more than 600 new jobs over 10 years, according to a press release.

“There is an overwhelming need for small business capital in rural Tennessee and we are focused on getting our resources in the hands of those who need it most,” Southeast Community Capital president Clint Gwin said in a statement.

“Banks can’t meet the needs of all business, which is why our focused financial and mentoring resources are so important to rural economic growth.”

The award was presented last month at the National Interagency Community Reinvestment Conference in New Orleans.

Southeast Community Capital has offices in Nashville, Knoxville, Kingsport and Jackson.