- Associated Press - Tuesday, March 25, 2014

IOWA CITY, Iowa (AP) - A group of investors in eastern Iowa plan to offer small loans to local businesses that focus on food, agriculture and sustainability.

Iowa Pollinators LLC say the loans will typically be around $5,000 to $10,000, the Iowa City Press-Citizen reported (https://icp-c.com/ORiNfK ). They will be at a 5 percent annual interest rate for terms of three to five years.

The local investors are part of a national group called Slow Money Alliance, which works to promote small food enterprises through investors, producers and entrepreneurs. The group in Johnson County is the first chapter of what’s being called Slow Money Iowa.

Suzan Erem, one of the investors, said she wanted to have a positive impact on the environment while also getting to know the producers in her local area.

“That was the really cool part,” she said. “A bunch of us would step outside our comfort zone and would meet people we would never take the opportunity to get to know. How better can the local food movement be than consumers and investors and producers all in the same group?”

Erem said a good candidate is an individual or group that demonstrates an ability to run a business but just needs a little push to expand production. She said the group wants to invest in strong candidates by asking for things like a business plan and financial information.

“We’re not just a bunch of folks trying to make money off of our neighbors,” she said. “We’re here trying to invest in our local economy in a responsible way.”

Kate Edwards, owner of Solon-based vegetable farm Wild Woods Farm, said she may apply for a loan through Iowa Pollinators to expand her business. She said the group’s community residents put a face to the money.

“There is a place for other types of lending, but what they’re doing, I think, is extremely powerful and I really appreciate that they’re doing it, and I could see myself utilizing that in the next couple of years,” she said.

Erem said the group wants to give its first loan in early April.


Information from: Iowa City Press-Citizen, https://www.press-citizen.com/

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