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Microloan Program Offers More Than Funds for Farmington Business

Merle Norman owner Karen Gara's CEED microloan helped her expand her business.

Farmington business owner Karen Gara received assistance from the CEED microloan program. Photo courtesy Karen Gara
Farmington business owner Karen Gara received assistance from the CEED microloan program. Photo courtesy Karen Gara
Two years ago, Farmington business owner Karen Gara expanded her Merle Norman store, opening a wig studio and spa, with help from the Center for Empowerment and Economic Development (CEED). 

The organization provided a microloan at low interest, but Gara said she got much more than cash out of the program. 

"It was an intensive application," she said, "I learned a lot about my business ... You learn what you need to succeed." 

CEED offered a variety of classes, and the loan officer with whom Gara worked provided encouragement and advice. Rather than just looking at dollars and cents, she said, "It's about what you can bring to the community, and your personal success." 

The program worked so well for Gara, she was honored two years ago with the CEED Microloan Outstanding Achiever award for her "strong business management and growth, support and mentoring of other business owners and community commitment and support".

$500,000 earmarked for 2014-2015


CEED has earmarked $500,000 in microloans for Oakland County small businesses over the next year and a half. The program has a ringing endorsement from county executive L. Brooks Patterson, who said it "helps our small businesses grow, expand and create jobs."

“Our goal is to help owners take their small businesses to the next level,” CEED’s executive director Michelle Richards said. “Many people don’t know about this Oakland County program, but we’ve provided $1.1 million in funding to small businesses and we’re hoping to issue another half million over the next 18 months.”

Those interested in the program may attend one of CEED's monthly orientation meetings. To learn more, visit miceed.org or call 734-677-1400.

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