ACT Buoys Colorado Manufacturers in Tough Business Climate

The system developed by Austin-based ACT will support economic development efforts nationwide

Denver, October 10, 2023 — The Colorado Advanced Manufacturing Association is pleased to announce the launch of a no-fee digital platform that streamlines, simplifies and expedites access to capital for small manufacturers, supporting job growth and economic development in a challenging market environment.

The new loan prequalification tool, which is being piloted in Colorado before being introduced in other U.S. markets and industry sectors, was developed by Austin-based Access Capital Technologies, the digital arm of ACTCapital, a nonprofit organization serving community lenders and their small business and start-up clients nationwide.

“Manufacturers must automate and advance if they are to meet customer needs and create jobs. However, financing new technologies amid rising interest rates is challenging,” said CAMA President Tim Heaton. “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.”

FirstBankKey Bank and DreamSpring are among the community lenders partnering with CAMA to launch the initiative, noting that the new tool assists their organizations in supporting Colorado’s smaller manufacturing businesses.

“We know manufacturers are vital to our economy but often deal with workforce and capital challenges,” said Kristen Bernhardt, president of FirstBank’s Northwest Market. “We look forward to helping them find solutions to efficiently operate and grow their business and see the [access-to-capital] program as one of several ways we’re able to accomplish that.” 

Edmond Johnson, board chair of DreamSpring, president/CEO of Premier Manufacturing and a member of CAMA, said: “This collaboration between CAMA and DreamSpring will result in many micro and small-business manufacturers gaining access to capital — money they can use to advance technology-driven manufacturing in their facilities.” 

The new access-to-capital platform cuts costs for new customer loan origination by nearly 70% and cuts acquisition costs by half, while almost entirely eliminating application rejections, said Luther Branham, co-founder and managing director of ACT.

“ACT provides quick access to the best lending product, interest rates and terms through technology that is easily scalable across different organizations,” Branham added. “We’re launching the platform with CAMA and its lending partners and will be adding more industry sectors and programs that support small businesses as we grow, focusing on underserved and often overlooked markets and communities across the United States.”

Colorado small manufacturers can access the lending platform through CAMA’s website. After answering a few key questions, applicants are matched with lending programs that best meet their needs. Based on the results, applicants then specify where they want ACT to refer their application. 

Rob Kraft, ACT’s co-founder and chief technology officer, said the digital platform was designed with direct input from small businesses and community lending institutions. ACT will continually refine the platform in line with market needs, he said.

“The platform is highly configurable, allowing us to be responsive to customers and developments in the marketplace,” Kraft said. “We can make adjustments to the system within minutes, unlike other financial technology platforms that can require hours or days to update.” 

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Access Capital Technologies / ACTCapital

Access Capital Technologies, with its nonprofit arm, ACTCapital, supports industry associations, community lenders and other nonprofits, including Community Development Financial Institutions, with the capital, technical assistance, workforce development and technology that benefit small businesses and startups in underserved and often overlooked markets and communities. In addition to its access-to-capital prequalification tool, Austin, Tex.-based ACT is building funds to support small businesses across the United States, starting with the Manufacturing Advancement Fund. Qualified lenders will receive Community Reinvestment Act (CRA) credit for investing in ACT funds. In addition, ACT is developing small grant and interest-rate buy-down programs for small businesses nationwide.

Contact ACT

Colorado Advanced Manufacturing Association

CAMA is the statewide, member-based trade association exclusively dedicated to advancing manufacturing in Colorado. We strive to connect members to each other and new business opportunities via experiential events and member-focused seminars. We seek to leverage combined purchasing power and offer exclusive member discounts, guaranteeing immediate membership ROI.

Contact CAMA

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