Financing in the Marcellus: Regional financing programs

Posted May 7, 2012

Observer-Reporter

 This is the second of four articles about how to finance your small business and take advantage of the incredible opportunities available because of the Marcellus Shale boom. My first article addressed Pennsylvania State financing programs.

The Marcellus energy play is not limited to Washington and Greene Counties. In fact, the Marcellus is the second largest gas field in the world and extends over four states. If one were to include the other gas-containing layers now thought to be below our feet, the affected area gets even bigger. Suffice it to say that there will be plenty of business for local entrepreneurs if you have the passion to pursue it.

The Pittsburgh region is well positioned to become one of the world's leading energy centers. Various organizations throughout the greater Pittsburgh region are busy trying to figure out how to capitalize on the energy boom, and many are now welding these efforts to their historic goal of helping finance business.

The most active regional players may be the extremely helpful Small Business Development Centers ("SBDC"), and similar departments, that are housed in our area's colleges and universities. Each of these organizations is devoted to helping small business with consulting and access to lending sources. Here is a run down on some of them.

Another such organization is the Southwestern Pennsylvania Commission (SPC). As the region's Local Development District and Economic Development District, SPC offers small business loan programs. As pulled from its website, "SPC's Business Finance Assistance staff works with entrepreneurs to aid their business expansion and development projects. SPC acts as a public partner to reduce risk for local lenders. Through the years, SPC has developed strong relationships with community-based economic development entities to create comprehensive loan packages for small businesses to obtain low-interest loans." Go to www.spcregion.org for more information

Another prominent purveyor of loans is the Catalyst Connection, also based in Pittsburgh. It specializes in helping the manufacturing industry. Catalyst Connection offers a variety of consulting services to local manufacturers as well as loan programs. CC describes its loan programs as follows: "Here at Catalyst Connection, we make it is our job to gather the latest intelligence on financial resources, investor access, and loan programs that are available to the southwestern PA manufacturing community. And we're eager to share everything we know. Our financial experts can work with you to assess your company's financial situation, develop a plan, and implement a solution aligned with your short- and long-range capital goals." CC also offers its own loan programs for manufacturers, including its www.catalystconnection. org/finance-programs-for-manufacturing/MTLF.aspx; Manufacturing Technology Loan Fund; www.catalystconnection.org/finance-programs-for-manufacturing/ Pollution-prevention.aspx; Pollution Prevention Assistance Account; www.catalystconnection.org/finance-programs-for-manufacturing/mon.aspx, Mon Valley Manufacturing Fund; and www.catalystconnection.org/finance-programs-for-manufacturing/allegheny_county_magic_fund.aspx, Allegheny County MaGC Fund. Find them at www.catalystconnection.org.

The leading regional organization for all types of business related issues is the Allegheny Conference on Community Development. This organization houses the Greater Pittsburgh Chamber of Commerce, the Pittsburgh Regional Alliance, and the Pennsylvania Economy League. They also conceived of and run the Energy Alliance of Greater Pittsburgh, so if you have a regional question or need, they are a great place to contact www.alleghenyconference.org.

You can see that the Pittsburgh region is bursting with help and financing alternatives for the entrepreneur. My next article will talk about home-grown financing programs for the business community. There is nothing stopping you from pursuing your dreams except a few phone calls. Good luck.

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