MICHELE NORRIS, Host:
Welcome to the program.
JIM COOK: Michele, it's a pleasure to be here.
NORRIS: Who is this program for?
COOK: This program is for low and moderate income small businesses in food beverage and hospitality, which is an area that we know. And we coupled it with coaching and counseling to help those businesses to be successful, grow their business and create jobs. And, ultimately, pay the money back so that we can then loan that money back out again and help more businesses.
NORRIS: Tell me a little bit more about how this works. How much money do you distribute and what do you expect in return?
COOK: Well, so far in the three years of the program we've contributed a little bit under a million dollars. We've made about a hundred loans. So the average loan size is a little bit under $10,000.
NORRIS: What was your experience when you started your own business? As we said, you had to turn to friends and family, dip into your own savings.
COOK: I know how hard it is, even with a great business, to get access to a loan. And beyond that, the other missing piece was just good advice about all the nuts and bolts of growing a business. So that kind of advice is the second piece that small businesses are lacking.
NORRIS: Is there a particular recipient in this program that you're particularly proud of?
COOK: She employs almost 20 people. She just got $150,000 investment from a venture capital company, 'cause they want to help her grow Voltage Coffee to something even bigger. But, you know, she started out with just a dream and a passion for a great product.
NORRIS: Mr. Cook, thank you very much.
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