Kentucky Highlands chosen for finance collaborative to increase small business

LONDON, Ky. — Kentucky Highlands Investment Corp. is one of 24 mission-driven small business lenders chosen to participate in the Small Business Finance Collaborative, intensive technical assistance program is designed to increase small business capacity in lending in underserved U.S. communities. The program involves a partnership with the Opportunity Finance Network (OFN) and Goldman Sachs 10,000 Small Businesses.

Responsible, affordable credit is not readily available for small businesses, especially minority and women-led businesses, due to the decrease of mainstream finance serving this market. This new program will build the capacity of CDFIs (community development financial institutions) and other mission-driven lenders to deliver responsible and affordable loans to small businesses and entrepreneurs across the nation.

OFN will deliver the Finance Collaborative, providing 24 mission-driven small business lenders with an intensive two-year program of peer learning, training and technical assistance. Each participant will create and implement a strategic growth plan to improve lending strategies and practices, while maintaining asset quality. Participants will be expected to report regularly on growth goals and to adopt best practices.

Funding is provided by Goldman Sachs 10,000 Small Businesses with additional support from Surdna Foundation.

This is the second Goldman Sachs partnership for Kentucky Highlands Investment Corp., which serves a 22-county region in Southern and Eastern Kentucky. In 2012, Goldman Sachs’ 10,000 Small Businesses provided KHIC’s loan fund with $5 million to lend to small businesses in low- and moderate-income areas throughout Kentucky. To date, KHIC has closed loans to 20 different Southeast Kentucky companies using these funds.

“These national resources will help us be more effective in supporting small businesses, which are driving economic growth and opportunity in the region,” said Jerry Rickett, president and CEO of Kentucky Highlands Investment Corp.

“Our nation’s economic recovery has been very uneven, with minority and women-led small businesses in underserved communities experiencing barriers to the credit they need to succeed,” said Mark Pinsky, president and CEO of OFN. “The participants in the Collaborative are uniquely positioned to reach these communities, helping owners avoid high cost loans. They will build strategies to aid small business and encourage sustainability, growth, and job creation.”

The Small Business Finance Collaborative is built upon a successful prior initiative in 2011-2013 where participants reported doubling their assets, increasing their self-sufficiency ratio and number of small businesses reached. Participants in the Finance Collaborative will expand on concepts learned in a previous training, including value proposition, innovation, talent management and the lending life cycle. The curriculum’s foundation is adapted from the Babson-designed Goldman Sachs 10,000 Small Businesses education program.

“Research shows that small businesses are the leading drivers of economic growth and job creation in this country,” said Esta Stecher, CEO of Goldman Sachs Bank USA. “Our partnership with OFN will continue to support mission-driven lenders, so that even more entrepreneurs gain access to the capital they need to succeed. These lenders were chosen because of their expertise and leadership in this area. We look forward to seeing the impact they will have in underserved communities.”

Kentucky Highlands Investment Corp., founded in 1968 to stimulate economic growth in nine counties in Southern and Eastern Kentucky, now serves 22 counties in the region and has created more than 20,000 jobs.

OFN, a network of private financial institutions, has the goal of creating growth that is good for communities, investors, individuals and the economy. Members of OFN are community development financial institutions (CDFIs) that deliver responsible lending to help low-wealth and low-income communities join the economic mainstream. Through 2012, OFN’s Network originated more than $33.3 billion in financing in urban, rural, and Native communities, and financed development/rehab of 960,000 housing units, started or expanded nearly 94,000 business and microenterprises, and helped create or maintain nearly 600,000 jobs. More information is available at: www.ofn.org.

Goldman Sachs 10,000 Small Businesses is a $500 million investment to help small businesses in the United States create jobs and economic growth by providing entrepreneurs with a practical business education, access to capital and business support services. The program is based on the broadly held view of leading experts that greater access to this combination of education, capital and support services best addresses barriers to growth. The program is active in urban and rural communities across the United States. Sites include Chicago, Cleveland, Dallas, Detroit, Houston, Long Beach, Los Angeles, Miami, New Orleans, New York, Philadelphia, and Salt Lake City, as well as a National Cohort at Babson College. Access to capital is also available in parts of Georgia, Kentucky, Maine, Minnesota, Montana, Oregon, Virginia and Washington.

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