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Good Faith Fund: Pine Bluff.

The Good Faith Fund, a nonprofit affiliate of Category III Business of the Year finalist Southern Development Bancorporation, was established in 1988 to provide micro-loans to allow low-income individuals to start their own business.

Since that time, it has expanded to include small-business loans, entrepreneurial training and technical assistance, work force development, asset development and public policy.

The public policy emphasis came about with the hiring of Angela Duran in 1998, who became executive director a year and a half ago. Good Faith works with the governor's office and the Arkansas Association of Two-Year Colleges to overcome barriers to enrollment.

Good Faith equips low-income families with the skills and support they need to move up the economic ladder. To Duran, ultimate success is when, for example, Good Faith helps an individual get started as a nursing assistant, then earn enough to go to college and get a degree as a nurse.

Last year, in its work force development area, Good Faith had an 81 percent job placement rate and 74 percent of those retained their jobs for more than six months.

In asset development, a main focus is on Individual Development Accounts in which adults save money for home ownership, entrepreneurship or higher education, and their savings are matched at $3 for every $1 they save. The program has helped 130 meet their goals, and another 275 are continuing to save.

Good Faith is one of 10 sites in the nation to be part of a new project, SEED--Savings for Education, Entrepreneurship and Development--which provides $1,000 to open college savings accounts for low-income 3- and 4-year-olds at Helena and encourages their families to make additional deposits.

Funded by government and private grants, Good Faith has improved the economic strength of communities in the Delta and helps with local businesses' need for trained workers. Its 17 employees and 35 volunteers serve some 550 people a year.
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Title Annotation:2003 Arkansas Business of the Year Awards: category IV nonprofit corporations
Comment:Good Faith Fund: Pine Bluff.(2003 Arkansas Business of the Year Awards: category IV nonprofit corporations)
Publication:Arkansas Business
Article Type:Brief Article
Geographic Code:1U7AR
Date:Feb 16, 2004
Previous Article:Audubon Arkansas: Little Rock.
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