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Flagstar Bank launches 'Big Ideas' small business investment in Pontiac with 11 grants


Jan 8, 2018

Flagstar Bank 'Big Ideas' small business investment in Pontiac - Washington Events

Eleven small businesses in Pontiac are the recipients of Flagstar Bank’s first round of business investment grants and loans, totaling $125,000 in grants and a $35,000 loan.

The Pontiac Big Idea Grant Program is committed to investing $700,000 per year into Pontiac over five years. Of the total $3.5 million overall planned investment, approximately $500,000 will be allocated in the form of grants and $250,000 in the form of business loans, with an average grant size of $10,000 and an average loan size of $5,000 to $25,000. The disbursement is being leveraged through a partnership with CEED Lending, a Small Business Administration lender.

“We’re pleased to see our efforts to support small businesses in Pontiac turn into real dollars to help entrepreneurs in the community,” says Alessandro DiNello, president, and CEO of Flagstar Bank. “This is how the program is supposed to work. We look forward to similar success with future disbursements of our $10 million commitment to the city.”

Grant applications are reviewed by a ten-person community-based Advisory Council.

“We have committed that the people of Pontiac will own the grant/loan program, for Pontiac. Flagstar will not make decisions on the grant/loans,” says Beverly Meek, vice-president and Community Reinvestment Act (CRA) director at Flagstar Bank. “Therefore we have developed an Advisory Council that is comprised of smart people who live or work in Pontiac and have demonstrated leadership and consistent commitment to the people of Pontiac.“

Grant awards will be provided monthly following a review from the advisory council. The criteria to receive a grant is the business must be in Pontiac and be a for-profit business.

“The grant application is intended to be easy therefore there are only five questions which ask what the money is to be used for, how it will help Pontiac, how it will help the applicant and whether the idea can create jobs in Pontiac,” says Meek. “We have also learned through hundreds of interviews that to be successful; we need to also invest in the business ecosystem in Pontiac to ensure business owners have the support they need to develop a strong business and keep those businesses growing.“

Flagstar Bank’s investment will also include providing grants to the City of Pontiac to help their website become a one-stop destination for prospective entrepreneurs, and will support the Main Street Pontiac program to focus on improving the downtown area and unifying businesses together toward a common goal of creating business opportunity in the city.

Willetrea Washington is one of the grant recipients, she began her business, Washington Events, seven years ago with a focus on corporate and political event planning and women’s empowerment. She bills herself “the corporate savior.” For Washington, Pontiac is home.

“I am a resident, and now a business owner, in the city of Pontiac. I am a graduate of Pontiac Central. Go Chiefs!” she laughs. Washington will be using the grant money to hire and secure an office location in Pontiac and be a part of the nascent revitalization. “The one thing that we never lost was the fact that we're still a family in Pontiac. There is the spirit in Pontiac that's awesome.”

The first round of grants and loans include the following:

  1. AdLocal - $10k

  2. Need to Talk - $10k

  3. Enrichment Programs - $10k

  4. Menagerie Lounge ($35k loan and $25k grant)

Link to article.

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