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Western Massachusetts Enterprise Fund to be known by new name

HOLYOKE — The Western Massachusetts Enterprise Fund, founded in 1990 to stimulate business growth in the region through micro-lending, has expanded its mission, changed its name and put more capital on the table for local community development projects.
In a recent announcement at the organization’s annual meeting at Open Square in Holyoke, Executive Director Chris Sikes presented the company’s new name: Common Capital. A new logo was also revealed, along with details of the company’s newly expanded role in the region.
“It is clear to us that there is ample capital available to fund major change in Western Massachusetts,” Sikes said. “The challenge is not to access the money, but to help the region absorb that capital and leverage it for the common good.”
That, he noted, goes directly to the heart of Common Capital’s new focus, which entails the following changes:
  • Extending lending well beyond small business microloans. Common Capital currently has funds available for operating capital and is seeking loan applications from community projects, nonprofits and larger employers.
  • Significantly increasing the company’s capital base via $40 million in New Markets Tax Credits (application pending), $500,000 in U.S. Treasury CDFI funds for healthy food initiatives (already received) and significant dollars from other identified sources to be named in the coming months.
  • Enlarging business advisory services to help match high-impact projects to available capital and facilitate its use for maximum community impact.
To help guide investments, Common Capital has initiated a discovery process to document specific needs within local business and community development networks. The process will include a “listening tour” with potential collaborative partners throughout the region to reconfirm community needs and resources.
“We have capital and are well positioned to attract much more,” Sikes said in summary. “Our goal is to find new and better ways to put it to use creating jobs, stimulating community development and improving the quality of life in western Massachusetts.”
The name change to Common Capital has already taken effect, Sikes added.
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