Community LendingWorks Helps Fund Businesses and Dreams
Coming up with the business idea is often easy. It’s getting the funding that can be the hard part. Whether it’s needing a loan to buy equipment, purchase a delivery vehicle, or simply to build credit, Community LendingWorks can help.
Community LendingWorks (CLW) is a Community Development Financial Institution (CDFI) that provides access to capital for businesses and individuals that can’t normally qualify for traditional financing. “We take pride in helping with economic growth within the communities we serve,” says Community LendingWorks Senior Loan Officer Corey Deel.
CLW is located in thriving downtown Springfield and co-shares a building with NEDCO. They provide a variety of small business and consumer loans that are tailored to fit the need of each individual they work with. Clients can contact them directly and are often referred by their collaborative business partners within the community.
The group grew over eight years since its founding in 2011 from one employee to six and recently processed its 1,300th loan for a total of $6.5 million in lending. Deel says 80% of their loans go to their target market areas along the I-5 corridor, although CLW is certified to lend anywhere throughout the state of Oregon. Loans can be any amount between $300 and $100,000.
CLW can boast of a lot of success stories, such as that of Bliss Nut Butters, out of Oregon City. Daniell Bliss and her husband started Bliss Nut Butters in 2012 from their home kitchen. As word of mouth spread, they started selling their product in local grocers and at farmers markets. It wasn’t long before they needed their own facility. Now their product line of delicious, all natural, and non-GMO nut butters can be found in more than 500 stores and they successfully operate a co-packing facility in Oregon City. “I had the best experience working with Community LendingWorks,” Daniell says. “They were truly interested in what we are doing here at Bliss Nut Butters– it wasn’t just a matter of paperwork but more people work. I am so excited to be working with CLW as I grow my business.” Since the loan, Bliss Nut Butters’ business has grown 35% annually for each of the last four years.
Estela and Florentino Contreras grow vegetables that they sell at local farmers markets. They started with small plots of leased land using hand tools to cultivate a variety of fresh produce. As their business grew, so did the plots of land. This year, they leased a large plot of land and knew they’d need to upgrade their equipment. The Contreras family connected with Community LendingWorks through an organization called Huerto de la Familia, to purchase a new tractor. “With this tractor, we can increase production and also try new vegetables,” said Florentino. With the new equipment, the Contrerases are working on bringing local jicama to the market.
“Our programs have had a huge impact,” says Deel. “The part I love most about us and my job, in general, is being an advocate, being mentors. We work with individuals in any situation. We meet them where they are and help them grow to wherever they want to be.”
For many people, that means receiving a small credit-building loan to establish or re-establish credit, a loan for financing a piece of equipment to help a small family business reach the next level of success or initial funding for a new start-up business. The goal is to build credit and financial literacy to the point that the client is eligible for SBA loans or traditional bank loans to help them take their business even further.
“We have access to so many community partners, so anytime someone comes to us and they’re not ready, we build a roadmap for them and give them the tools they need to be successful.”
Deel says CLW bridges the traditional lending gap by helping the client from where they currently are while providing them guidance and education to get where they want to go. It brings Deel joy to work one-on-one with clients who he says often have great ideas but don’t have a way to bring those ideas to life. “The impact here in the community is huge and that’s the most rewarding thing,” he says. “220 small businesses have been funded, creating over 375 jobs in our local communities, and 283 families have secured safe and affordable housing.”
Community LendingWorks and Eugene Regional Accelerator are partnering on an event called “Making Business Loans Simple” taking place at RAIN’s downtown Eugene office. At that event, CLW will introduce their programs to anyone who is interested and will also talk about information that is available for startups, what a lender wants a business plan to look like, and understanding access to capital and how it works.
Making Business Loans Simple With Community LendingWorks
Thursday, April 16, 5:30 pm to 7:30 pm
942 Olive St in Eugene
Looking to launch or grow your business? Getting a business loan is much easier than you might think. Community LendingWorks has provided hundreds of loans to just about every kind of business you can imagine. Come meet their team of experts and learn how they can help you become loan ready.