NEWS BRIEFS

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Newark Tech Hub

Newark Venture Partners, a $50 million technology venture fund aimed at establishing Newark, New Jersey’s comeback as a technology and innovation hub, brings a state-of-the-art, ultra-high bandwidth 25,000 square-foot accelerator to Newark. The fund will provide capital, company-building services and residence to innovative tech startups in Newark. Unveiled at the same time was Firebolt Newark Wi-Fi, Newark’s new free, public Wi-Fi network connecting Newark’s downtown and other neighborhoods. Built by the Military Park Partnership and funded by Audible.com, Prudential Financial Inc., Rutgers University-Newark and New Jersey Institute of Technology, the Firebolt Wi-Fi is billed as “the world’s fastest, large-scale, contiguous public outdoor Wi-Fi.” The network is said to be capable of delivering hundreds of megabits per second download speeds to client devices.

 

SBA Loan Program  

The U.S. Congress approved, and President Obama signed, legislation to ensure continued lending under the Small Business Administration’s 7(a) guaranteed loan program, raising the lending cap from $18.75 billion to $23.5 billion through the rest of the fiscal year ending Sept. 30, 2015. The legislation signed into law also waives some fees for U.S. military veterans applying for certain SBA loans. The 7(a) guaranteed loan program, which is funded solely by user fees and uses no taxpayer appropriations, is a valuable resource for small businesses nationwide. Stronger-than-expected demand for SBA-backed loans caused the program to be exhausted sooner than expected and the agency was forced to suspend the funding of new loans as the cap was reached. SBA said it received $1.7 billion in applications in one week alone in July.   

 

Access to Working Capital

Marlin Business Bank of Mount Laurel, New Jersey, launched FundingStream.com to give small businesses access to working capital via an online loan application that takes as little as 10 minutes to complete. Marlin says the site was created to meet the growing demand for quick access to working capital from the nation’s 28 million small businesses. A loan decision can take as little as two hours, with funding in as little as two days. Marlin aims to go toe to toe with big banks that have largely ceded this business. Loans range from $5,000 to $100,000 with repayment terms of six to 24 months.  Loans will be underwritten and funded by Marlin Business Bank.  Marlin differs from Fintech companies such Kabbage and OnDeck in that it is a state-chartered, federally insured commercial bank and a member of the Federal Reserve System.  

 

Minorities and STEM

Students and instructor at Southern Methodist University's STEM program.The U.S. Department of Defense awarded the STEMPREP Project at Southern Methodist University (SMU) a $3.78 million grant to increase the number of minorities in STEM fields. The grant follows a $2.6 million grant in 2014. The STEMPREP Project, based at the Annette Caldwell Simmons School of Education and Human Development at SMU, recruits bright, science-minded middle school students for the first phase of the 10-year program. One hundred seventh- and eighth-grade minority students live on the SMU campus through Aug. 1 for six weeks of college-level biology, chemistry, statistics and research writing and presentation classes, laboratory techniques course, and the creation of a final in-depth research presentation on a disease. Participants who complete the junior high component spend their senior high and college summers working in university, U.S. government and private research laboratories in Philadelphia; Bethesda, Maryland; Seattle, Washington; and in Toronto and Vancouver in Canada. African-Americans make up 11 percent of the U.S. workforce but only 6 percent of STEM workers, while Hispanics make up 15 percent of the U.S. workforce, but just 7 percent of the STEM workforce. 

 

CUNY School of Medicine 

The City University of New York (CUNY) School of Medicine received accreditation from the Liaison Committee on Medical Education, a U.S. Department of Education accreditor of medical education programs leading to the M.D. degree. Located on the campus of The City College of New York in Harlem, the new medical school aims to increase access to medical education and train physicians for underserved communities across the state. Its first class of 70 students will begin in the fall 2016 in partnership with St. Barnabas Health System in the South Bronx. A campaign is underway to raise $20 million in interest-free loans for those students. New York State and the country as a whole face a critical shortage of doctors. By 2025, the demand for physicians will exceed supply by an estimated 46,000 to 90,000. For primary care physicians, the shortfall is expected to be between 12,500 and 31,000 doctors. A 2013 Kaiser Family Foundation study shows New York State meeting only 40 percent of its primary care needs. 

 

Banks and CSR 

The American Bankers Association Foundation launched an interactive map, “Banks in Their Communities,” to showcase corporate social responsibility programs from banks across the country. The map, which features profiles from ABA’s Community Commitment Awards submissions, allows users to search and view bank programs in categories for affordable housing; community and economic development; financial education; nontraditional borrower and underbanked; protecting older Americans; and volunteerism. Users will be able to search for programs by state, category, bank asset size and keyword. The map will identify any program summaries submitted since the CCA’s inception in 2012 that match the user’s search criteria. The map can be viewed at www.aba.com/communityengagement.

 

Confederate Flag

The NAACP’s National Board of Directors voted to end the organization’s 15-year economic boycott of South Carolina, following the removal of the Confederate battle flag, “the well-known symbol of racial oppression,” from the state’s capitol grounds where it had flown for more than half a century. NAACP President and CEO Cornell William Brooks said the organization’s decision follows 15 years of exerting consistent and aggressive economic pressure on state lawmakers. While removing the Confederate flag in South Carolina in no way fixes “the problems of our nation that are rooted in racism and bigotry,” Brooks said, it “is a very important step in ceasing to glorify a bygone era in which African-Americans were treated as second- class citizens.