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Jeanne D’Arc Credit Union in Lowell, Mass., has committed $200,000 to launch a community fund that will support small business lending within its historic home neighborhood.
The credit union has partnered with Community Teamwork Inc. to launch the Acre Catalyst Fund. The fund will support the Entrepreneurship Center @CTI to capitalize on an economic development initiative.
The Acre Catalyst Fund complements the center’s programs by making loans available to entrepreneurs, existing businesses, and businesses seeking to locate to the Acre, one of Lowell’s most impoverished neighborhoods.
Jeanne D’Arc Credit Union was founded in the Acre 108 years ago and remains there today.
“We’re committed to the Acre, and we feel it’s important to support small businesses there,” says Kara Doyle, vice president of commercial lending at the $1.4 billion asset credit union.
Many businesses in the underserved community don’t have access to credit, especially during the coronavirus (COVID-19) pandemic, Doyle says.
“They're not qualifying for traditional credit union products,” Doyle says. “So we put some money aside to help them.”
In addition to loan capital, entrepreneurs and businesses that are part of the program will receive business and financial counseling and other resources to help guide them in their business ventures.
"The goal is to get them in the door and find ways to sustain them," Doyle says.
She says efforts to sustain businesses in the Acre neighborhood were in place before the COVID-19 pandemic.
“If COVID-19 had never happened,” Doyle says, “we would still be here, supporting these businesses.”