Financing Ozarks Rural Growth and Economy (FORGE, Inc.), a not-for-profit corporation that offers lending services, is expanding its service area to include all of southwest Missouri, as well as northwest Arkansas and northeast Oklahoma.
According to the FORGE website, the membership organization borrows money from the Small Business Association (SBA), USDA, charities, foundations and individual investors to lend to start-up businesses, families in need, small farmers and individuals who are denied credit by the conventional banking system.
"The Ozark Mountain region has traditionally been mostly rural and relatively poor," states the website. "While the last decade has seen significant growth in the area's larger cities, many smaller rural communities continue to struggle, industry continues to leave the area and the current recession has tightened lending when it is needed most."
FORGE was founded in 1989, by a group of organic farmers from throughout the Ozarks bio-region who were concerned that farmers wanting to incorporate sustainable agricultural practices into their farming operations were being hindered by a lack of affordable capital. FORGE was established as a revolving loan fund to serve the needs of small farmers.
In 1998, FORGE became a SBA Intermediary Microlender, and in 2010, the organization became a Certified Development Financial Institution (CDFI).
In addition to lending services, FORGE offers classes in how to write a business plan, marketing and management for current and prospective borrowers.
Individuals interested in starting a business, expanding an existing business, purchasing a small farm, buying equipment or purchasing a home are invited to contact FORGE.
For more information, visit www.forgeonline.com or call the FORGE office in Huntsville, Ark., at 479-738-1585.