A St. Joseph family has established a fund to help students and alumni acquire financing to start or purchase a business. The Bradley family, owners of the News-Press & Gazette Company, pledged $300,000 to the MWSU Foundation to create the Bradley Entrepreneurship Loan Program.

“The Bradley family has long supported Missouri Western, and we are very appreciative of this latest example of their generosity,” said Dr. Robert Vartabedian, Missouri Western’s president. “The program will provide very meaningful assistance to our students and alumni who are interested in owning their own business.”

The loan program will provide up to $100,000 to guarantee loans from banks or other lenders. It will be administered by the Center for Entrepreneurship within the Craig School of Business.

“The Bradley Entrepreneurship Loan Program fits very well with the Center’s mission to train, mentor and support business owners and entrepreneurs in the St. Joseph area,” said Dr. Mike Lane, dean of the Craig School of Business. “Financing can be one of the biggest challenges for those starting out as a business owner, and this program will help us address that.”

Applicants will be required to develop and submit a comprehensive business plan to the Center for Entrepreneurship. A committee made up of Dr. Lane and representatives from the CSB Advisory Council and the MWSU Foundation Board will review the application. If approved, the Craig School of Business will work with the entrepreneur to identify an appropriate lender to participate in the program. The MWSU Foundation will then provide the bank with a certificate of deposit as collateral for the loan.

Preference will be given to businesses in Buchanan County. The program can help establish a new business or it can assist businesses transitioning from family ownership to new ownership.

Annette Weeks, director of the Center for Entrepreneurship, said one of the center’s goals this year is to help family-owned businesses begin succession planning early enough to bring prospective owners into the business a few years prior to their anticipated retirement, and she believes she will be able to identify good prospects for the loan program from among students and alumni.

For more information on the loan program or to begin the application process, contact Weeks at (816) 271-4283 or aweeks@missouriwestern.edu.

“We are proud to help new and existing businesses grow and prosper in the community,” said David Bradley, NPG Co. chairman and CEO.