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Partnership established for loan program

The Southwest Initiative Foundation has established a pilot partnership program with several regional banks to help business owners gain financing to start or expand a business.

The Southwest Initiative Foundation has established a pilot partnership program with several regional banks to help business owners gain financing to start or expand a business.

Through the program, banks commit to informing small-business owners and aspiring entrepreneurs about the Southwest Initiative Foundation's micro-enterprise loan program and helping them with the application process.

Customers can apply for the loans directly at participating banks. Some loan applicants who qualify may be eligible for a lower interest rate by applying through the participating bank.

To date, banks in nearly a dozen locations have signed up for the partnership program. They include:

- Bremer Banks in Willmar, Marshall and Redwood Falls.

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- KleinBanks in Montevideo and Madison.

Loan customers will receive ongoing technical assistance from the Southwest Initiative Foundation for the length of the loan. The technical assistance ranges from training in accounting and marketing plans to general business management.

The partnership program with regional banks is designed to make financing and technical assistance more available to small businesses. The Southwest Initiative Foundation hopes to extend the program to more banks in the region.

The micro-enterprise loan program offers loans of up to $35,000 for start-up or expansion of for-profit businesses in the 18 counties of southwestern Minnesota that need additional sources of funds. The program receives funding assistance from the U.S. Small Business Administration, the U.S. Department of Agriculture and the Otto Bremer Foundation.

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