“Throughout the year, I was continuously awed by our customers and their creativity and resilience. ” – Elissa Sangalli, President
This past year, my first as president of Northern Initiatives, has been full – full of learning, lending, awe, and gratitude.
While the world seemed to be simultaneously spinning out of control and standing still, Northern Initiatives stuck to our mission of helping underserved businesses survive and succeed.
In 2020, we had a 25% increase in loans closed, making more than 200 loan modifications to support 268 customers. We set a record for the amount of technical assistance provided to small businesses. In addition, we more than doubled the number of subscribers to Initiate, our technical assistance platform. Initiate is now being used by 17 like-minded organizations across 32 states.
We’ve created a new internal team that’s offering strategic PPP assistance to businesses who’ve been left out of previous rounds of PPP support. Many of these are farms, sole proprietors, and people of color-owned businesses. Most qualify for less than $10,000 in support – a dollar amount that is critical to their survival but less interesting to other lending institutions.
We’re always working to build up our operating capacity, lending capital, loan loss reserve, and net assets. Our total assets at the end of 2020 increased 8% over the previous year, and our governmental income increased 67%, which drives home the value of those partnerships. We conservatively increased our loan loss reserve to mitigate the uncertainty of a COVID economy.
Throughout the year, I was continuously awed by our customers and their creativity and resilience. Most recently, I was inspired by a connection NI helped make between Stormy Kromer and Public Thread – a long time and new customer. Both cut-and-sew businesses, Stormy Kromer and Public Thread stepped up production in 2020 as they developed masks and PPE to support communities across the Great Lakes. It is inspiring to see their success and to imagine what future collaborations and peer-sharing might bring.
I’m so grateful for the NI staff, board, funders, and customers. It is extremely gratifying to be able to alleviate some of the stress this pandemic has brought about. Together, we’ll keep moving through whatever lies ahead.