The Locally Owned Voice of the Capital Region

A new type of bank for Schenectady

Wednesday, March 12, 2014
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We’d like to extend an enthusiastic welcome to the Community Loan Fund of the Capital Region, a highly regarded Albany-based organization that is opening a satellite office in Schenectady’s Hamilton Hill neighborhood. There’s a great need for it here — not just the $1.9 million it intends to loan to nonprofits, microenterprises and homeowners over the next three years, but the expertise and technical assistance it provides that help make the vast majority of its loans good ones.

The loan fund has been around since 1986, started with a pool of contributions from 200 private individuals, churches, synagogues and local banks. Its mission is to supply badly needed, and often difficult-to-get, capital to poor people, minorities and women, as well as the nonprofits that serve them. And it has been successful, steadily increasing its loan portfolio and lending capacity.

To show how careful it is with its money, and how much counseling and education it provides before and after lending, the loan fund’s default rate for small business loans, a notoriously risky type, is less than 1 percent, which is lower even than banks’.

Executive Director Linda MacFarlane says the organization has the strong support of several nonprofits, Mayor Gary McCarthy, the Chamber of Commerce and Metroplex, which is providing free space in the Schenectady County Business Center it operates on Albany Street. That leaves the loan fund more money to make loans when it officially opens Thursday.

“Neither a borrower nor a lender be,” said Polonius in Shakespeare’s “Hamlet.” Not good advice if you’re trying to start a business, or, like the loan fund, help those who are.

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