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Lt. Gov. in Fayetteville to talk about business [The Fayetteville Observer, N.C.]

Oct. 07--State and local officials say they're trying to help small businesses because they'll be key in bringing North Carolina out of the "Great Recession."

Lt. Gov. Walter Dalton on Wednesday told about 100 small-business owners and others in Fayetteville about the N.C. Small Business Assistance Fund, which is used to insure loans to small businesses from the Self-Help Credit Union. Dalton spoke at a Fayetteville-Cumberland County Chamber of Commerce State of Small Business Luncheon at the Holiday Inn Bordeaux.

Chamber Vice Chairman Steve Mannell said the chamber is going to begin a small-business awards program and do other things to help its members.

"We've gotten through tough times before and we will get through them again, and we will get through them again because of small businesses," Dalton said.

Small businesses will create jobs to replace those lost over the years to overseas factories and the recession, he said.

The Small Business Assistance Fund uses $6.5 million -- $1.5 million from the legislature, plus a grant of $5 million from the N.C. Golden LEAF Foundation -- to encourage Self-Help Credit Union to lend money to small businesses that might not otherwise qualify to borrow.

The $6.5 million provides an insurance fund to cover defaults, said Dan Gerlach, president of the Golden LEAF Foundation.

"This enables them to take some of those loans that might be at the edge, might give them enough confidence to take the loan," he said.

The credit union agreed to leverage the $6.5 million to lend as much at $32.5 million, said Donna Flick, an underwriter at the N.C. Rural Economic Development Center, which is overseeing the project for the state.

In Fayetteville, the chamber is expanding its service to small businesses, said President Doug Peters.

A committee is forming to consider their needs and ramp up training and networking opportunities, find ways to advocate on their behalf on regulatory issues, and begin presenting monthly and annual awards to small businesses, Peters said.

The "small business of the year" could then compete in regional and national competitions, Peters said.

People interested in serving on the committee can contact Todd Lyden at the chamber at 484-4242, ext. 235.

Staff writer Paul Woolverton can be reached at woolvertonp@fayobserver.com or (910) 486-3512.

To see more of The Fayetteville Observer, or to subscribe to the newspaper, go to http://www.fayettevillenc.com/.

Copyright (c) 2010, The Fayetteville Observer, N.C.

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