It is a little surprising to see the jobless rates in so many counties decrease in March, but in 43 of the 51 counties that did happen. Only seven counties saw an increase and one remained the same. Given the seasonal nature of many small businesses in the region, it will be interesting to see how these numbers bode in the future. After we see next month’s numbers perhaps more speculation will be in order. Suffice it to say, jobless rates were down nationally, including both Michigan and Wisconsin. Wisconsin is nudging close to full employment!
We are off to a good start in the new year, and it certainly looks like sometime around mid-year we will close our 1,000th loan since we began making loans in 1994. It appears like we already have enough loans that have been approved, pending close and in underwriting to get there. It is also quite likely that we will reach 20 counties during 2017 where in total we will have loaned more than $1M. By real estate developer standards that seems puny, but our average loan is slightly above $50,000, and so for us, it represents seeing scale in more places. The more scale we see in counties, the more it helps us reach our founder’s vision to build more diverse and resilient communities.
We also learned that Northern Initiatives is the recipient of the SBA District Director’s Award for 2016. The award acknowledges NI as the leading micro lender and Community Advantage lender in the state. Last year, we ranked 11th nationally in dollars loaned through these two programs.