Montana State University

Loan program for Montana entrepreneurs to operate under new partnership

June 21, 2012 -- MSU News Service

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A program that provides interest-free loans to Montana entrepreneurs will operate this year under a new partnership between the Montana State University College of Business and the Gianforte Family Foundation.

The partnership will enable MSU business students to be involved in selecting entrepreneurs to receive loans from the Bootstrap Montana Loan Program. The program provides Montana entrepreneurs with loans for projects that are expected to provide a fast return on investment. The loans range from $5,000 to $20,000 and should be repaid within one year. Peter Rubicam, director of the Bootstrap Montana Loan Program and a finance instructor at MSU, along with entrepreneurship instructor Gary Bishop, will supervise the students.

"This will be a valuable real-world education opportunity for our students, because they will be exposed to the business analysis and loan evaluation process," Rubicam said. "Clients of Bootstrap Montana will also have access to pro bono consulting and other resources offered through the Jake Jabs Center for Entrepreneurship."

The program embraces the business development philosophy of "bootstrapping," or growing a company with the aid of outside investment or capital. It was funded in 2007 by Greg Gianforte, then-CEO of Bozeman-based Right Now Technologies and head of the Gianforte Family Charitable Trust. The program is intended to create jobs in Montana, bring new revenue into the state and increase the competitiveness of Montana companies. It was previously administered by the Tech Ranch Foundation.

Since its inception, the Bootstrap Montana Loan Program has made 24 one-year, interest-free loans. Borrowers are Montana entrepreneurs who have used the funds to hire employees, attend trade shows or undertake other initiatives.

Bootstrap Montana loan application and review processes are designed for ease and efficiency, Rubicam said. After an initial online application, applicants provide a short presentation to a committee. The committee then makes a decision about the loan within several days.

Small business owners who are interested in the program can learn more by visiting www.bootstrapmontana.org or contacting Rubicam at peter.rubicam@montana.edu or (406) 994-6198.

With roughly 1,200 students, the MSU College of Business offers undergraduate programs in accounting, finance, management and marketing, as well as minors in accounting, business administration, entrepreneurship and small business management, international business, and the management of information technology. The college also offers a master's of professional accountancy degree designed to prepare students for professional careers in the field of accounting.

Contact: Audrey Lee, (406) 994-7026 or audrey.lee@montana.edu