MANCHESTER, NH – The Regional Economic Development Center (REDC) announced the creation of the state’s first micro-loan fund specifically for new Americans, also called first-generation immigrants, at an event held Friday May 18, attended by government officials and community members. The New Hampshire New Americans Loan Fund (NALF), which was created following a successful pilot program in partnership with the Welcoming Concord Initiative, will encourage business development and job creation for the state’s new Americans through micro-lending and technical assistance.
“Through our work, we have seen the need for alternative funding sources in the immigrant community,” said Laurel Adams, President of REDC. “First-generation immigrants are a true resource for the state; attracting new Americans and keeping them in New Hampshire can increase the state’s diversity, grow our economy and mitigate our labor shortage. To keep them here, we need to help new Americans achieve the American dream of owning a business. We want to extend a hand to our newest residents, and that’s exactly what the New Hampshire New Americans Loan Fund can do.”
The Fund will provide micro-loans, which are small business loans for $50,000 or less with reasonable interest rates. Those who typically apply for micro-loans don’t have the necessary history or accounting paperwork to secure a bank loan, so they are forced to look for funding elsewhere – a potential barrier for many who are looking to start or grow a business. Throughout the life of the micro-loan, experts will provide technical assistance in areas such as accounting and bookkeeping, website management and marketing, and work with loan recipients to help them put processes in place to ensure they can qualify for bank loans in the future.
“For New Hampshire to have a vibrant future and a sustainable and healthy economy and communities, it must open its doors and support new Americans that bring new ideas and new energy and want to invest in our state,” said Will Arvelo, Director, New Hampshire Division of Economic Development. “The influx of new people with new ideas and passion is what keeps America going strong. The New Hampshire New Americans Loan Fund sends a message to this population that says, ‘We appreciate what you bring, and we want you in New Hampshire’ and is a tool that begins to open the doors to economic and business opportunities.”
With extremely low unemployment rates, an aging workforce and many native young adults moving away, engaging foreign-born residents, who are typically younger than the state’s native population and often well educated, can help reduce labor shortages and grow the economy.
“Manchester is proud to be the home of thousands of new Americans from diverse backgrounds,” said Manchester Mayor Joyce Craig. “The New Hampshire New Americans Loan Fund presents an exciting opportunity for our residents who are first-generation immigrants and currently own a business or dream of starting one. The Fund will not only provide training and funding, it will enable businesses to flourish and create more jobs in our community.”
REDC has been working with the new American population for many years through its other micro-loan programs. By helping them with funding and technical assistance, the organization saw the need first-hand for additional resources and funding.
“Starting my business in New Hampshire has helped me become a part of the community, and I wouldn’t have been able to start and grow my business without the REDC micro-loan program,” said Tika Acharya, owner of AS Insurance in Manchester and REDC micro-loan recipient. “With REDC’s assistance, I was able to grow my business to more than 1,000 clients. Our staff is bilingual and bi-cultural, so we are filling a vital need in the community by helping those with language barriers or who come from different backgrounds. New Hampshire New Americans Loan Fund can help other first-generation immigrants start a business with training and funding, so they too can put down roots and contribute to the community.”
First-generation immigrants are a growing population in New Hampshire; in 2015, the state had more than 75,000 foreign-born residents. From 2010 to 2015, more than 5,000 residents left the state, but more than 10,000 international residents moved to New Hampshire, giving the state a positive net migration.
“I’m very pleased that the New Americans Loan Fund will help fuel the success of New Hampshire businesses,” said U.S. Senator Jeanne Shaheen, who was unable to attend the event. “By launching this program, the Regional Economic Development Center will create opportunities for first-generation Granite Staters to build successful businesses and contribute to our local economy. This financing will provide economic support for the region for years to come. I am thrilled to celebrate the launch of this program today.”
To apply for a micro-loan, interested new Americans will meet with an REDC business advisor, develop or refine a business plan, fill out an application and share financial documents, including tax returns, personal financial statements and projections. REDC staff guide applicants through the process and provide translators if needed. The application process can take anywhere from two to six weeks. Those who are interested in learning more about the application process can visit https://www.redc.com/newamericanloanfund for more information.
REDC anticipates receiving several applications and granting six to eight loans in the Fund’s first year. And while NALF has the means to start reviewing and funding applicants immediately, REDC plans to grow the Fund to $2 million through business and personal donations and government resources. Currently, REDC is working with the state to secure participation in the CDFA Tax Credit Program, also called the Community Development Investment Program, which allows businesses to receive 75 percent of an eligible charitable contribution back in the form of a state business tax credit. REDC expects to receive final approval and to begin accepting these types of contributions in mid-June. Those interested in learning more about the CDFA Tax Credit Program can visit https://www.redc.com/donate.
The organization, with financial support from the Endowment for Health, is also preparing for a market study to quantify the size and diversity of the new American population in the state. The study will also measure the projected demands for programs like NALF and determine the best avenues to reach the state’s new Americans. REDC recently issued an RFP for the study, which is due on Friday, June 22.
NALF is currently accepting applications for new Americans looking to grow their current business or start a new business. All first-generation immigrants in the state can apply for a micro-loan through the Fund, including those with United States citizenship, green cards or work visas. Visit https://www.redc.com/newamericanloanfund for more information.
About New Hampshire New Americans Loan Fund
NALF is administered by REDC, in Raymond, N.H., which works independently or in partnership with local lenders to help borrowers to secure the funding needed to start or grow their small businesses. The fund is guided by a Steering Committee of diverse people dedicated to this cause; representatives include people from the United Way, SCORE, Endowment for Health, Community Development Finance Authority, as well as several first-generation immigrants.