Alexandra Blum, President and CEO of Minnesota Business Finance Corporation, has been named Financial Services Champion of the Year for the U.S. Small Business Administration’s Minnesota District Office as well as the upper Midwest Region.
The Financial Services Champion award is presented annually in each state to individuals who assist small businesses through advocacy efforts to increase the usefulness and availability of accounting or financial services.
The regional award winner is selected from among the state winners. In addition to Minnesota, SBA’s upper Midwest Region includes Illinois, Indiana, Michigan, Ohio and Wisconsin.
Blum has served as president and CEO of the Minnesota Business Finance Corporation (MBFC) since 1998. Under her leadership, MBFC has become a thriving $150 million certified development company licensed by the U.S. Small Business Administration (SBA) to originate SBA 504 commercial real estate and equipment loans throughout Minnesota. She also serves as CEO of MBFC’s affiliate, The Minnesota Center for Business Development – a 16,000-square-foot “one-stop capital shop” offering financing, managerial and technical assistance and training to businesses, lenders and economic development entities.
This year alone, under Blum’s leadership, MBFC generated a record number of SBA 504 loans that created 887 jobs and retained 979 jobs within those businesses. MBFC in 2005 originated record 100 SBAS 504 loans totaling $45.4 million – a significant 68 percent (dollar-based) increase compared to the previous year. With Blum as its president and CEO since 1998, MBFC has originated nearly a quarter of a billion dollars worth of SBA 504 loans, providing significant job and economic growth to local communities.
Blum knows how to help generate small business growth at the grass roots level. A notable achievement was how she was able to put together a $250,000 grant for the Central Lakes College Small Business Development Center (CLC SBDC). This grant will have a direct impact on business investment and job growth in the north-central Minnesota region covering 11 rural counties. It will provide entrepreneurs and small business owners, who often face challenges getting traditional bank loans, with new financing opportunities to bring their imaginative products and services to market.
The CLC SBDC grant exemplifies Blum’s grass roots approach and acumen to bring in partners to further spread small business growth. The grant will be matched dollar-for-dollar with state and federal funds and thus generate a total of $500,000 for small business development. The CLC SBDC grant is worth many times more than its original amount ($250,000) and will have along-term growth effect for small businesses in the north-central region.