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TechTown forges new funding partnership aimed at retaining Jewish entrepreneurs

December 15, 2009

DETROIT, December 15, 2009-TechTown is proud to announce a new partnership with Hebrew Free Loan, a private community organization with a 115-year history of providing interest-free loans to assist Jewish individuals in need.

HFL has pledged a starting pool of $300,000 to begin issuing short-term loans to Jewish entrepreneurs committed to remaining in Southeast Michigan. As Detroit's largest and fastest-growing small business incubator, TechTown will be responsible for identifying loan candidates who have viable business ideas, have successfully completed a TechTown FastTrac program, or are currently enrolled in TechTown's two-year SmartStart business accelerator program. Candidates who are granted a Hebrew Free Loan will also receive access to TechTown's comprehensive entrepreneurial support system which includes business coaching, mentoring, workshops and space for lease.

Initially, loans will range between $1,000 and $25,000.

"To truly help this community stabilize, we knew we had to reach out and become a part of something bigger than we are," said HFL Executive Director Mary S. Keane. "What is so important in starting our partnership with TechTown is its ability to deliver a package of resources all in one place to anyone with an entrepreneurial idea. TechTown offers us the greatest leap that we've ever taken in helping our small business clients."

TechTown Executive Director Randal Charlton says the collaboration with HFL adds another critical dimension to TechTown's ongoing efforts to develop a new class of homegrown innovators and leaders across Southeast Michigan.

"The support from the Hebrew Free Loan comes at a critical time," Charlton said. "We are particularly interested in offering young people who are seeking to develop their careers a real alternative to leaving the state in search of their future. By the end of 2009, more than 750 potential entrepreneurs will have completed our training programs that have been funded by the foundations that make up the New Economy Initiative. Many of these new entrepreneurs will need seed funding to establish their businesses. Hebrew Free Loan will be one important source of that financing."

Hebrew Free Loan was founded in 1895 as a grass-roots community group comprised of local merchants who pooled resources to make interest-free loans to fund small business start-ups, thereby stabilizing the community. As the loans were re-paid, the funds were re-loaned to help others. Today, Hebrew Free Loan is a 501( c ) 3 charitable organization managing assets of $7.7 million and a loan portfolio of $4.4 million to provide short-term interest-free loans with dignity for re-training, education, medical and dental needs, home repair, transportation and car repair, summer camp, weddings and other family celebrations, adoption assistance and much more.

The TechTown loans are part of a new project hfl.bis (Hebrew Free Loan Business Initiative Stimulus) which offers several types of business loans to help Jews in the metro area.

Learn more about Hebrew Free Loan and its rich history at

TechTown is an urban community of entrepreneurs, innovators, investors, mentors and corporate partners creating an internationally influential village in Detroit. TechTown brings the resources of Wayne State University to high-technology startup companies to diversify and strengthen Michigan's economy in high-growth emerging industries. For more information, visit

Contact: Nichole Christian, Director of Communications, TechTown
Voice: (313) 879-5248

Contact: Allison Lumb, Marketing Coordinator, TechTown
Voice: (313) 879-4478

Contact: Laurie Banks, Controller, Hebrew Free Loan
Voice: (248) 723-8184