SOURCE: Ann Arbor Economic Development Corporation

October 12, 2005 09:35 ET

Ann Arbor EDC Awards Grants to CEED, Spark

ANN ARBOR, MI -- (MARKET WIRE) -- October 12, 2005 -- The Ann Arbor Economic Development Corporation, a municipal bonding agency created by City Council in 1978, has made grants totaling $80,000 to two local non-profit organizations engaged in economic development and job creation.

The Center for Empowerment and Economic Development (CEED) will receive $50,000 to create the Ann Arbor Microloan Program, to provide small business start-up loans primarily for women- and minority-owned businesses. CEED, which was formerly known as the Ann Arbor Community Development Corporation, has been providing similar loans to women, minorities and others who have difficulty obtaining conventional financing for more than 21 years. CEED has loaned funds to 36 new or expanding businesses in Ann Arbor, and boasts an 86 percent success rate. According to CEED director Michelle Richards, the agency will be able to use the EDC award to win additional grants of up to 1/3 million dollars from the U.S. Small Business Administration and all of these funds will be used to support local entrepreneurs.

An award of $30,000 was made to Spark, a Washtenaw County-based organization focused on innovation-based economic development. Spark was created earlier this year by a consortium of government, educational and business groups, including the University of Michigan and Eastern Michigan University, the County of Washtenaw, the City of Ann Arbor, Pfizer, the Bank of Ann Arbor, the First Martin Corporation and the Dow Foundation. Among its stated purposes are the doubling of innovation-focused businesses and the tripling of the number of innovation-focused jobs in the area. Richard Snyder, chair of the Spark board of directors, indicated that the EDC grant would be dedicated to website and database development, and for salaries, with the goal of attracting and retaining outstanding technology and business talent to the Ann Arbor area.

In announcing the grants, EDC board chairman Dale Leslie noted that several times in the past the EDC has successfully used its accumulated funds to encourage job creation and responsible economic growth in the community. "The good judgment of the city government and business leaders who established the EDC many years ago has been validated time and again. The current board considers it a privilege to extend a modest amount of help to two agencies hard at work to offer opportunities to people of all backgrounds."

The EDC was itself made possible by a Michigan state law enabling municipalities to extend tax-free bonding financing to start-up and expanding businesses and non-profit organizations. Most EDC-assisted projects have been in the range of $3 - 10 million, and have benefited primarily non-profit organizations in recent years. Most recently, the new Ann Arbor YMCA building project was financed by EDC bonds. The EDC accumulates its own funds by charging application fees and a project completion fee. EDC directors are appointed by City Council and serve without compensation. In addition to Chairman Dale Leslie, the current board members are Dan Blakemore, Fred Beal, Dan Fusfeld, Larry Hahn, Jim Frenza and Stephen Lange Ranzini.

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