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Microloan fund Intersect focusing $450,000 infusion on Sandy recovery

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The Intersect Fund's microloan program for small businesses hurt by Sandy is getting an additional $450,000 from Capital One Bank.

Intersect, a non-profit community lender based in Newark, has so far made $500,000 in loans to 62 businesses, and will now be able to make about 50 more, according to Intersect chief executive Rohan Mathew.

Capital One is increasing its low-interest line of credit to Intersect from $100,000 to $400,000 and awarding the non-profit a $50,000 grant. Capital One Bank earlier had provided $150,000 to Intersect for Sandy small-business microloans.

"There are business owners out there that are still struggling and want to turn things around, and being able to access capital from organizations like the Interest Fund is really key to helping and assisting that recovery," said Daniel Delehanty, senior vice president for community development at Capital One.

Mathew said his goal is to make at least $1 million in Sandy recovery loans. The fund makes microloans of up to $15,000.

"We are still seeing a lot of demand," Mathew said. "There's a lot of businesses, especially down the Shore, that were waiting to see how the summer turned out to see if they would be able to go in on their own without financing. Now we're seeing business coming to us and saying, "It was not exactly what I was expecting for the summer sales, so I realize I'm going to need some help."

He said Intersect made a loan to a restaurant in Tuckerton that was wiped out by Sandy and had to rebuild from the ground up. The insurance settlement covered 90 percent of their rebuilding cross, but they needed a loan to finish the job and reopen the business.

David ("Chef D") Holmes, owner of It's-a-Wrap Café in Plainfield, got a
$10,000 loan from Intersect.

"(During Sandy) we lost power, we lost supplies, we had flooding and equipment damage," Holmes said.

Insurance, he said, didn't cover all his losses, and without the loan from Intersect, "We would really have been out of business," he said.

Delehanty of Capital One said that because of Intersect's "strength in making loans to Sandy-impacted businesses, they had increased demand for loans, so we wanted to make sure we were able to increase" their lending capacity.

He said a survey by the bank found that 36 percent of Sandy-harmed small businesses have partially recovered, and about 9 percent have not recovered at all.

"A lot of really remarkable entrepreneurs are coming through this struggle and turning the corner, and it's really impressive to see," Delehanty said.

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