Celebrating 1,000 Loans Strong, and Growing!


Northern Initiatives itself once a startup, made its 1,000th loan, demonstrating a strong entrepreneurial culture in the Upper Peninsula and Northern Michigan.


Northern Initiatives closed its 1,000th loan in September, 2017.  This mission based small business lender was founded by Northern Michigan University in 1992, and began small business lending in 1994 with the aim of building more diverse and resilient rural communities.


Reaching this level of loan volume is showing that entrepreneurs and small business owners throughout Michigan want access to both capital and business services to launch and grow small businesses.


“Northern Initiatives has been lending to entrepreneurs and small business owners, almost exclusively in rural markets, with nearly 70% of those loans in the Upper Peninsula” said Dennis West, President of Northern Initiatives.   “One-third of our loans have funded start-up businesses. What distinguishes our work is access to capital, coupled with knowledge building services; including accounting and marketing support.   Our average loan size is $57,000, so our impacts have been both broad and deep in terms of coaching customers.”


Northern Initiatives’ 1,000th loan was made to Drone Services in Kalkaska, Michigan.  The loan is providing working capital as the company grows.  This is the second business loan from Northern Initiatives to Drone Services. Owners John and Barb Hulwick received a small business loan in 2016 to launch its drone based aerial data collecting service business. Since then, the company has seen an increase in market demand and an uptick in the contracts awarded for its services – at times beating out as many as eight alternative providers.  They are building a strong reputation for expertise and safety, especially in the Oil and Gas industry.


John Hulwick said, “As a new business, we were pleased to learn that there is an organization like Northern Initiatives available to us. In addition to the loan, they offered us a means to improve our financial literacy through Profit Mastery training and tools, important to supporting our thinking about growth.   They also reached out to provide assistance with developing our marketing strategies. It was like gaining a business partner.”


Drone Services is slated to add both new employees and customers in the coming months as the company grows. After managing its first growth spurt –  the sky’s the limit!



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