DRA Announces Partnership for Microenterprise Financing

Nation’s Largest Microlender to Serve Delta Region

CAPE GIRARDEAU, Mo., Aug. 5, 2011 — DRA Federal Co-Chairman Chris Masingill announced today that Southeast Missouri State University’s Douglas C. Greene Center for Innovation and Entrepreneurship and ACCION Texas, Inc. are partnering to develop ACCION Delta, which will provide microlending services to the 252 counties and parishes of the federally designated Delta Regional Authority. ACCION Delta’s regional office will be located at the Douglas C. Greene Center for Innovation and Entrepreneurship (CIE) in Cape Girardeau. “Small businesses are the backbone of the Delta economy,” said DRA Federal Co-Chairman Chris Masingill. “While these loans may be small, they can make a major difference in the success of a small business. Now, more than ever, we need to be doing everything we can to make sure our mom and pop shops have the resources they need to grow their business and create good-paying jobs.” As an extension of ACCION Texas Inc., a 501(c)(3) microfinance company, ACCION Delta is committed to empowering diverse individuals, assisting entrepreneurs and small businesses gain access to capital and the practical knowledge to operate a business. Established in 1994 in San Antonio, ACCION Texas (ATX) is a nonprofit microlender and small business lender. Its services help Texas and Louisiana entrepreneurs strengthen their businesses, stabilize and increase their incomes, create employment and contribute to the economic revitalization of their communities. “We are pleased to partner with great technical assistance providers like the Douglas C. Greene Center for Innovation and Entrepreneurship and the Operation JumpStart program that provides much needed training for small businesses,” said Janie Barrera, president and CEO of ACCION Texas Inc. “What the Delta lacked was access to a credit provider like ACCION Texas.” The collaboration between ATX and CIE brings together the nation’s largest microlender with one of the nation’s most successful rural microenterprise development programs. Since 2006, the CIE’s Operation JumpStart program has trained over 750 aspiring entrepreneurs that have started nearly 250 new businesses that are sustaining at over 90%. Based on the success of Operation JumpStart, the CIE was the only recipient in the United States to receive two grants from the U.S. Small Business Administration to build microenterprise development capacity. The CIE is collaborating with the Delta Regional Authority to build a network of Operation JumpStart programs throughout the lower Mississippi Delta region. Organizations are completing certification training and will begin training and mentoring hundreds of aspiring entrepreneurs and existing small business owners soon. With the development of ACCION Delta, they will have access to the capital they need. “I am thrilled to partner with ACCION to deliver high-quality business training and services, and capital to entrepreneurs throughout southeast Missouri and the Mississippi Delta region,” stated Dr. James Stapleton, executive director of the Center for Innovation and Entrepreneurship and assistant professor of management at Southeast. “Their expertise in providing loans to individuals who do not have access to traditional funding sources combined with the expansion of our successful Operation JumpStart program will lead to the startup and expansion of hundreds of businesses in our region. It’s these kinds of regional collaborations supported by the Delta Regional Authority that will lead to significant improvement in quality of lives, businesses and communities throughout our region.” About ACCION ACCION Texas, Inc., the nation’s largest nonprofit microlender, is committed to providing capital to entrepreneurs who do not have access to loans from commercial sources. ACCION’s loans range from $500-$100,000. Since inception, ACCION has made 12,000 loans to entrepreneurs totaling $112 million. For more information, please visit: www.acciontexas.org. To schedule an interview with ACCION President and CEO Janie Barrera, please contact Veronica Flores-Paniagua at (210) 531-5536. About the Delta Regional Authority The Delta Regional Authority (DRA) is a federal-state partnership that serves 252 counties and parishes in parts of Alabama, Arkansas, Illinois, Kentucky, Louisiana, Mississippi, Missouri and Tennessee. Chris Masingill, appointed by President Obama to be the DRA’s federal co-chairman, along with the governors of the eight states, comprise the Authority’s board. For more information, please visit: www.dra.gov. About Southeast Missouri State University and the Douglas C. Greene Center for Innovation and Entrepreneurship The Douglas C. Greene Center for Innovation and Entrepreneurship (CIE) at Southeast Missouri State University is one of the most comprehensive entrepreneurship-focused university centers in the Midwest, offering a wide array of academic and outreach programs and services, including: innovation development and research; entrepreneurship education, training and mentorship; and business incubation and development services. The CIE supports Southeast Missouri State University’s strategic priority to advance the region’s economic appeal and strength by accelerating local and regional economic growth and development that improves the quality of lives, communities and businesses in southeast Missouri and the surrounding region. For more information, visit: www.semo.edu/cie.