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Justine Petersen lending program to be expanded throughout Southern Illinois

COLLINSVILLE – The U.S. Small Business Administration announced this week that St. Louis-based microlender Justine Petersen will expand its service territory to include 73 counties across central and southern Illinois.

The expansion is targeted at assisting an increasing number of entrepreneurs and small business owners seeking greater access to affordable capital in the continued wake of the recession.

Justine Petersen is the country’s second-largest SBA certified microlender. It presently works with entrepreneurs and small business owners in the St. Louis, all 114 Missouri counties and 29 counties in eastern Kansas. The organization, launched in 1997, was named after the late Justine M. Petersen, who was a pioneer in implementing community reinvestment in St. Louis.

According to its co-founder and CEO Robert Boyle, the organization packaged and processed nearly 350 microloans averaging $7,500 to $10,000 during its last fiscal year.

Robert “Bo” Steiner, SBA’s Illinois District director, made the announcement at the “Access to Capital Summit” Tuesday, Aug. 26, at the DoubleTree Hotel in Collinsville. More than 80 bank officials, small business owners and economic development professionals attended the Summit, organized by the St. Louis Small Business Monthly, Justine Petersen and the Illinois Metro East Small Business Development Center at SIUE.

Steiner said the announcement was in response to downstate small businesses owners whose credit scores, length of time in business and/or other factors limits their ability to secure financing through traditional sources such as banks and credit unions. Microloans are normally short-term loans less than $50,000 with risk-based interest rates to address immediate needs.

“Congratulations to Justine Petersen for this commitment to the state of Illinois,” said Steiner. “The additional resources this expansion provides will increase access to much-needed entrepreneurial financing for those who are launching and growing small businesses, the backbone of our country.”

Patrick McKeehan, director of the Illinois Metro East SBDC, was thrilled with the announcement. “This gives more of our region’s small business owners and entrepreneurs increased access to and opportunity for SBA certified microloans. My staff and I are excited to collaborate with Justine Petersen staff on expanding microloan services and resources across downstate Illinois.”

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