WASHINGTON: In a long awaited announcement several months late, the U.S. Treasury Department’s Community Development Financial Institutions Fund (CDFI Fund) announced more than $3.5 billion in New Markets Tax Credit awards aimed at stimulating investment and economic growth in low-income urban neighborhoods and rural communities nationwide. A total of 76 organizations (Allocatees) across the country will receive tax credit allocation authority under the 2014 round of the New Markets Tax Credit Program.

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WASHINGTON - The US Department of Agriculture announced the launch of two new private funds, known as Rural Business Investment Companies (RBICs), which make equity investments in rural businesses, helping them grow and create jobs. This announcement is part of USDA's ongoing efforts to help attract private sector capital to investment opportunities in rural America to help drive more economic growth in rural communities.

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By:  Ari Page

I never advocate that anyone borrow just to borrow. But if you need capital to make payroll or invest in something that you know will reap a short-term profit, then you need access to capital. In the past few years, even though money has been tight, there have always been options. Banks always need to lend to stay in business. You just need to know where to look.

Act I: Grandmother Isn’t Always Right

One of Steve Martin’s earliest routines went something like this. “I’ll never forget what my grandmother taught me. She said ‘Always…,’ no wait, ‘Never…,’ no it was, ‘Always…take a litter bag in your car. It doesn’t take up much room and when it gets full you can just toss it out the window.’”

That comes to mind when I hear people say things like, “Never…amass credit card debt.” If you can get better terms on a credit card than on a bank loan or a mortgage, than heck yeah you should amass credit card debt.  If you borrow on a credit card at X% interest and make Y% with that money, where Y is greater than X, then let’s do that all day long!

And guess what.  Ever since the current economic outlook improved and the market eased up, banks have been looking various ways to increase their earnings. Banks and federal associations are not quite as anal in their approach to risk, and want to find ways to generate some more business. The result is that some avenues of acquiring financing are now easier than ever.

One of the easiest, and, if done correctly, least expensive ways to get financing is via credit cards. I know this flies in the face of everything we’ve ever been told. Sure, many credit card companies still charge near-usurious interest rates, and most of us would be hard-pressed to make good use of capital at 20% and higher interest. But guess what. There are thousands of credit card offers at favorable rates for small businesses.

In fact, when the Office of the Comptroller of the Currency released their 19th annual “Survey of Credit Underwriting Practices” during the period ending June 30, 2013, they reported that among all loan products, credit cards had the greatest easing of underwriting standards.

Act II: Sometimes Things Too Good to Be True Are, in Fact, True

You’ve gotten another no interest credit card offer in the mail.  “Sure,” you sardonically think. “Add in those hidden fees and crazy post-promotional-period interest rates and I’ll be giving them my house, car and boat in 12 months.”

But many of these offers are bonafide, great deals!  And if you can benefit from access to financing, you should jump on these.

“But how does that even make sense for the bank?” you might say.  Excellent question. The thing is, if banks don’t lend money, they don’t make money. Banks themselves can borrow at historic lows (they borrow at near zero percent from the Federal Reserve!), so they have access to lots of capital. Add this to the notion that banks have a lot of ways to make money, and you can start to see how this makes sense.

Banks want to have a relationship with you - and if they already have a relationship with you, they want to surround you with services that will keep you from going to the competition.  So, providing you with great credit card offers costs them very little, and allows them to start shoving other promotions into your mailbox.

Moreover, although many zero percent interest terms appear to be capped, I am here to tell you unequivocally that if you know what you’re doing, that’s just not the case. Banks hope you’re not savvy enough to realize that if you know who to talk to and what to say, you can keep rolling over zero interest introductory offers for the foreseeable future. Business owners are the “crème de la crème” in the banking community and can take advantage of special promotional codes and techniques that aren’t available to the regular borrower.

Act III: Get Some

Here are some things you can do to take advantage of low- and zero-interest credit cards.

1. If you don’t have a business entity, get one. It’s easy to acquire and anyone can do it. You want to be smart about it, as some entities are far more lendable than others. For example, having Marketing/Advertising or Business Management in your business name, indicates you are (on average) a better risk than someone with Real Estate in their title.  There are also important nuances in terms of what type of entity you set up.

2. Know how to elucidate what your business does. If you’re stuttering, stammering or seem unsure of your business, don’t expect the bank to lend to you.

3. If you have personal credit issues, get them cleaned up. There are many agencies, such as Kaydem Credit Help, that can assist you.

4. Search the web for credit card offers for businesses.

5. Do your homework to sort through various offers, identifying any hidden fees.

6. Explore existing relationships and see what they’re willing to do. I once went to my bank to open up a checking account and was offered a $17,000 credit card for being a loyal customer.

7. Consider requesting line increases or exploring promotional rates for those cards that you already have. Many banks won’t hesitate to reward good customers with increased credit lines.

Ari Page is CEO of Credit Card Builders, a company that helps small businesses raise unsecured, zero percent business financing. A voracious reader, Ari constantly scours the market for new techniques and strategies to identify creative and profitable borrowing strategies. Because of his unique insight and approach, Credit Card Builders has raised millions in funding for small businesses nationwide, with the average amount ranging from between $50,000 and $250,000.

On Wednesday, I’m hosting a free webinar with Ari about how you can get business funding.

Register For Free Webinar:
“How to Get $25,000 - $250,000
To Start or Grow Your Business”

Make sure to Register and reserve your spot on the webinar training before it fills up (space is limited).

Join me Wednesday 3/4, for a free webinar:


WASHINGTON – The head of the U.S. Small Business Administration (SBA) announced that for the second year, the SBA is launching an Accelerator Growth Fund competition for accelerators and other entrepreneurial ecosystem models to compete for monetary prizes of $50,000 each, totaling $4 million. The application period is from April 10-June 1 and information about the application process can be found at:

“We’re launching a second Accelerator Growth Fund competition to spur even greater opportunities for America’s small businesses,” said SBA Administrator Maria Contreras-Sweet.  “Last year’s event was so successful, we’re looking forward to discovering and empowering the next trailblazers.  Accelerators provide valuable resources to potential startups: a physical infrastructure to work in their infancy, mentoring, business-plan assistance, networking, opportunities to obtain venture capital, and introductions to potential customers, partners and suppliers—all critical elements to ensuring that small businesses flourish and succeed.”

Similar to last year’s competition, several panels containing expert judges from the private and public sector with collective experience in early stage investing, entrepreneurship, academia, start-ups and economic development will select the winners.  The competition includes accelerators, incubators, co-working startup communities, shared tinker-spaces or other models.  The panel will give particular attention to, applicants that fill geographic gaps in the accelerator and entrepreneurial ecosystem space.

Through this competition, the SBA is looking to support the development of accelerators and their support of startups in parts of the country where there are fewer conventional sources of access to capital (i.e., venture capital and other investors).

In addition, the SBA is also seeking accelerators headed by women and those that support them or other underrepresented groups. Thirty-two percent of last year’s accelerator winners were run by women and 14 percent were classified as underrepresented groups.

Manufacturing accelerator models will be given special consideration during this year’s competition, because they are critical to job growth and strengthening the nation’s economy.

Please click hereDownload Adobe Reader to read this link content for the Accelerator Growth Fact Sheet and specifics on how to apply and the timeline for 2015’s competition.

WASHINGTON– U.S. Department of Housing and Urban Development (HUD) Secretary Julián Castro announced new changes to strengthen a federal program called “Section 3” that directs jobs and training to low-income workers and connects businesses that hire them with HUD-funded contracting opportunities.  The initiative would increase opportunities for businesses that hire local public housing residents for HUD-funded projects. In addition to changes to Section 3 requirements, Secretary Castro also announced the launch of a National Section 3 Business Registry. The registry is a searchable online database that local housing authorities, government agencies, and contractors can use to find firms that are self-certified as employing at least 30 percent public housing residents or low-income workers.

“All Americans should have the chance to contribute to the development and growth of their own communities,” said HUD Secretary Julián Castro. “These Section 3 initiatives will connect more hard-working folks and small businesses to local economic opportunities, giving them new tools to secure a more prosperous future.”

Every year, HUD funds create thousands of jobs across the country that range from construction to professional services like accounting or engineering. From 2009-2014, based on data reported by public housing authorities and HUD modeling, approximately 170,000 jobs were created by HUD for eligible low-income workers through this program.More than $5 billion in HUD-funded contracts has been directed to Section 3 businesses since 2009. While businesses are only required to hire 30 percent low-income workers, that goal has been exceeded nationally. About 50 percent of new hires for HUD-funded contracts are low-income workers or public housing residents.

Section 3 of the Housing and Urban Development Act of 1968 states that, “employment and other economic opportunities generated by Federal financial assistance for housing and community development programs shall, to the greatest extent feasible, be directed toward low- and very low-income persons, particularly those who are recipients of government assistance for housing, and to businesses that employ them.”  Since 1994, the Section 3 program has been governed by an interim regulation. For the first time in 20 years, HUD is proposing a new rule today that would expand opportunities for public housing residents and low-income workers.

In 2012, HUD launched a five-city pilot Section 3 Business Registry in Detroit, Los Angeles, Miami, New Orleans and Washington, DC to help local public agencies better connect local businesses that hire low-income residents and workers with the contracting and economic development opportunities created by HUD-funded  housing and development projects, something that is required under Section 3 guidelines. Nearly 1,000 businesses have signed up for the registry nationally. Today, in Miami, Secretary Castro applauded the nearly 300 Section 3 businesses that have signed up for the registry statewide.  HUD announced that the initiative will now become national.

In addition, the proposed rule announced today would recognize new HUD programs established since 1994 that are required to meet low-income and public housing resident hiring goals. It also clarifies vague language in the interim rule and eases challenges to achieving compliance. HUD is currently accepting feedback on the proposed rule during a 60-day public comment period.