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City partners with nonprofit lender to provide funding opportunities for startups

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This post originally appeared in the City of Auburn News.

AUBURN, Ala. – A new funding source is now available for startups, minority-owned, underserved and other local businesses looking to start and grow in the Auburn area.

The Industrial Development Board of the City of Auburn, with the support and concurrence of the Auburn City Council, has worked to recruit Sabre Finance to locate a branch of its operation in Auburn, bringing a new funding option to the local business community.

Based in Birmingham, Sabre is a certified Community Development Financial Institution (CDFI) and SBA microloan lender that focuses on lending primarily to help businesses develop. As such, the nonprofit helps bridge the financing gap for higher-risk projects that traditional lending institutions may not be comfortable funding.

“We’ve been working to develop a more complete entrepreneurial ecosystem in Auburn by adding another financing option for startups and small businesses to get funding locally,” City of Auburn Economic Development Director Phillip Dunlap said. “A CDFI like Sabre will be a great asset to Auburn, closing the gap for some businesses to get loans that would otherwise be unattainable.”

Sabre offers several lending services from loans under $50,000, which can be used for working capital and/or machinery and equipment, to larger loans that can be used to finance building and real estate projects. In addition to funding, Sabre will also give local businesses access to free technical resources such as:

  • One-to-one business advisement.
  • Entrepreneurship and specialized industry training.
  • Professional services such as legal, human resources, marketing, IT and accounting.
  • Business development and networking events.

“Rather than focusing on our success, the unique thing about Sabre Finance is that we focus on the success of the businesses we work with, no matter if they borrow from us or not,” Sabre Finance CEO Dr. Ray Morris said. “We help companies at all stages of life with growth as the focus — growth of the local job market, growth of the business and growth of the fund, which allows us to expand the total amount available to be loaned.”

The City of Auburn and Industrial Development Board have both contributed $75,000, $150,000 total, as a loan loss reserve for Sabre’s Auburn fund. This fund will be leveraged to secure up to $1 million available through the U.S. Small Business Administration microloan program.

Sabre will have at least one dedicated, full-time staff member to serve the greater Auburn area. AJ Stephens, Sabre Finance business advisor, will have an office in the City of Auburn’s startup incubator.

“I look forward to meeting local businesses, listening to their needs, and rolling up my sleeves to find impactful ways that Sabre can assist each unique business,” Stephens said. “I encourage business owners to call or email me to start a discussion about how our resources may help them grow.”

Sabre Finance is located at the Auburn Center for Developing Industries at 1500 Pumphrey Ave. For more information about Sabre Finance, contact Morris at [email protected]. For loan information, contact Stephens at [email protected]. Learn more about the City of Auburn’s efforts to support entrepreneurship and technology at