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New Online Tool Helps Manufacturers Find Funds

To capture business returning to the United States from China, manufacturers know they need to streamline their operations by automating, says Tim Heaton, president of the Colorado Advanced Manufacturing Association (CAMA). But that costs money, and getting conventional loans is challenging, he says. That can plunge manufacturers into the often-predatory world of fintech.

So CAMA has developed a no-fee digital platform that streamlines, simplifies, and expedites access to capital for small manufacturers. Partnering with Austin, Texas-based Access Capital Technologies and several financial institutions to create the new loan prequalification tool, CAMA is piloting the program in Colorado before it’s rolled out in other U.S. markets and industry sectors.

“Our new Access to Capital tool matches the manufacturer with the most suitable lender, taking time and guesswork out of the loan search process, while allowing businesses to spend more time building the products that make Colorado strong,” Heaton says.

FirstBank, Key Bank, and DreamSpring, a community development financial institution (CDFI), are working with CAMA, and several other financial institutions are poised to become partners in the program, he says. As a CDFI, “DreamSpring can do everything a bank can do, but they’re going to be able to do it without some of the stringent criteria you would find at one of the other banks,” he says.  

CAMA and Manufacturer’s Edge, another organization that provides support and technical assistance to manufacturers, are providing business consultant services that DreamSpring is required to provide with its loans.

Manufacturers can sign up for the no-fee service on CAMA’s website. “You will complete a few questions, and it will match you to the best suited bank to get you the money you’re looking for,” Heaton says. 

The concept originated after the federal CHIPS and Science Act was passed in 2022, Heaton says. “We were hoping that there was going to be more money available to support small manufacturers,” he says. “When that didn’t happen, we knew we had to be a little more creative. Access Capital Technologies had already developed the software, so we were able to bring it to market very quickly.”
The Access to Capital tool is open to all manufacturers but likely will be most useful to midsize and smaller businesses, Heaton says. They’re the ones, he says, “who are caught in this pinch between higher interest rates and the need to finance growth.”


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