Bank of the West Charitable Foundation Announces Economic Development Support for Greater Omaha $60,000 will provide start-up funding for entrepreneurs

OMAHA, Neb., April 16, 2013 /PRNewswire/ -- Bank of the West Charitable Foundation today announced that it is supporting small business development by awarding Catholic Charities of Omaha a $60,000 Program Related Investment (PRI).  Through the organization's Microbusiness Training and Development Program (MTDP), the $60,000 will provide micro-loans to under-served entrepreneurs in Douglas and Sarpy counties, and adjacent Pottawatamie county in Iowa. Over the next three years, Catholic Charities will use the PRI to finance dozens of micro-entrepreneurs and also provide technical assistance to small business owners.

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"We recognize that access to credit for small businesses, particularly in under-resourced communities, can play an important role in supporting the economic viability of a community," said Dian Quinn, Bank of the West's Community Affairs manager. "By investing in local entrepreneurs, we're also supporting the dreams of future business owners who envision a better life and more opportunities for themselves and their families."

Over the past three years, Catholic Charities' Microbusiness Training and Development Program has made 66 micro-loans to local start-ups as well as business owners who may have needed a credit infusion to support their existing business. Recipients come from diverse backgrounds with varying levels of business experience though historically, all applicants have been from underserved populations and communities. The Omaha nonprofit concentrates its efforts in the economically challenged southeast and northeast areas of Omaha.  The variety of businesses helped by the micro-loans range from bakeries, grocery stores and interpreting services to construction and landscaping firms. 

"For our work in addressing poverty in the community, this PRI represents substantial support for micro-entrepreneurs in the greater Omaha area, especially for those starting or strengthening their businesses so that they can create self-employment opportunities and eventually provide jobs for other community members," said John Griffith, executive director of Catholic Charities of Omaha. "The entrepreneurs and small business owners will also receive the technical assistance they need in order to establish or re-establish their credit, with the goal of enabling them to graduate to larger loans and grow their business, thereby improving the financial stability of their families."

Omaha Microbusiness Out to "Impress"  
Juan Carlos Aguilera came to the United States knowing nothing about running a business. After attending the Microbusiness program at Catholic Charities, he felt encouraged to start his own business. With the program's technical assistance and a micro-loan, he was able to apply his knowledge and skills to start Impress Digital, now providing the South Omaha business community with posters, signs and business cards. He also offers printing and embroidery to individuals. 

"This year Mr. Aguilera was able to obtain a loan from a bank, which indicates the success of the program to help people to become bankable," said John Griffith, executive director of Catholic Charities of Omaha. Another indication of success, Griffith said, is that Juan Carlos now volunteers his own time by teaching basic computer classes to participants of the Catholic Charities Microbusiness program. 

About Bank of the West
Founded in 1874, $63 billion-asset Bank of the West (www.bankofthewest.com), member FDIC and equal housing lender, offers a wide range of personal, commercial, wealth management and international banking services. The bank operates more than 600 retail and commercial banking locations in 19 Western and Midwestern states. Bank of the West is a subsidiary of BNP Paribas, which has a presence in 80 countries with nearly 200,000 employees.

SOURCE Bank of the West



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