The U.S. Small Business Administration recently announced that St. Louis-based micro-lender Justine PETERSEN will expand its service territory to include 73 counties across central and southern Illinois.
The expansion is targeted at assisting an increasing number of entrepreneurs and small business owners seeking greater access to affordable capital in the continued wake of the recession.
Justine PETERSEN is the country’s second largest SBA certified micro-lender. It presently works with entrepreneurs and small business owners in St. Louis, all 114 Missouri counties and 29 counties in eastern Kansas.
The organization, launched in 1997, was named after the late Justine M. Petersen, who was a pioneer in implementing community reinvestment in St. Louis. According to its co-founder and CEO Robert Boyle, the organization packaged and processed nearly 350 microloans averaging $7,500 to $10,000 during its last fiscal year.
Robert “Bo” Steiner, SBA’s Illinois District director, made the announcement at the “Access to Capital Summit” Tuesday, Aug. 26, at the DoubleTree Hotel in Collinsville. Steiner said the announcement was in response to downstate small businesses owners whose credit scores, length of time in business and/or other factors limits their ability to secure financing through traditional sources such as banks and credit unions.
Microloans are normally short-term loans less than $50,000 with risk-based interest rates to address immediate needs.
“Congratulations to Justine PETERSEN for this commitment to the state of Illinois,” Steiner said. “The additional resources this expansion provides will increase access to much-needed entrepreneurial financing for those who are launching and growing small businesses, the backbone of our country.”
Patrick McKeehan, director of the Illinois Metro East SBDC, welcomed the announcement.
“This gives more of our region’s small business owners and entrepreneurs increased access to and opportunity for SBA certified microloans. My staff and I are excited to collaborate with Justine PETERSEN staff on expanding microloan services and resources across downstate Illinois.”
The Metro East SBDC assists start-up ventures and existing businesses headquartered in the nine-county St. Louis Metro East region. Illinois SBDCs are funded, in part, by the U.S. SBA, Illinois Department of Commerce and Economic Opportunity, and Southern Illinois University Edwardsville as a service to the Illinois small business community.