Published October 1, 1991 | October 1991 issue
The Northern Economics Initiative Center (NEIC), Northern Michigan University, Marquette, will work with a Chicago bank to increase small business development opportunities in the Upper Peninsula (UP).
"The program is being organized to catalyze small business growth and job creation in a region where mining industries are shrinking, and where certain industries and communities continue to suffer the effects of a chronic recession," says Richard Anderson, NEIC director.
When the program gets under way early next year, NEIC will no longer be a university department. Instead, it will be known as NEICorp., which will continue all of NEIC's current programs aimed at technical and financial assistance to small UP businesses. And with Shorebank Corp. of Chicago, NEICorp. will be a partner in two other economic development programs: the North Coast Business and Industrial Development Corp. (BIDCO) and an Upper Peninsula loan production office of the South Shore Bank, Shorebank's subsidiary.
The Michigan Strategic Fund of the Michigan Department of Commerce approved a $3 million loan commitment to the North Coast BIDCO, which must be matched with funding from other sources. Anderson says capital fund raising efforts are under way.
The partnership may be a boost to local banking as well, Anderson says, because BIDCOs need other lenders to make them work. North Coast BIDCO will make long-term investments in new and expanding small businesses and will be incorporated on a for-profit basis.
Shorebank and NEIC were drawn together through the Ford Foundation about two and a half years ago. When NEIC decided to expand its programs by getting into the lending business, Ford suggested contacting Shorebank, known for its strong commitment to alternative lending programs.
Anderson sees the partnership creating more opportunities for the university as well. "The NMU community will benefit from internships, research and work-study opportunities for students, and exposure to the best practices in community development, business and manufacturing modernization for NMU faculty.
"What makes the program unique is that it's the first time a strong technical assistance program has been added to a strong development lending partner," Anderson says.