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CUSoup event provides micro grants for startups
LANSING, Mich. (8/28/12)--A Michigan Credit Union Foundation Community Reinvestment Initiative Grant and support from a Michigan credit union will help a local entrepreneur build a play center for children with autism.

From left, Mary Killian, Shell Jones and Chimena Nelson of Play Place for Autistic Children were winners of Christian Financial CU's 2012 CU@Soup business pitching competition. Jones received $1,400 in startup funds for the project, including a $1,000 grant from the Michigan Credit Union Foundation. (Photo provided by the Michigan Credit Union League.)
Budding entrepreneurs pitched their business plans at Christian Financial CU's (CFCU) second annual CU@Soup event, said the Michigan Credit Union League (Michigan Monitor Aug. 27).

CU@Soup is a community dinner hosted by Christian Financial CU that provides community members a chance to start or expand their businesses. The winning pitch received a $1,000 MCUF micro-grant plus the proceeds from the event.

CFCU selected three finalists from the field of applicants, and attendees of the CU@Soup event voted for their favorite business plan.

Shell Jones, who plans to open the Play Place for Autistic Children, presented the winning pitch.   She earned $1,400 to open the facility.

Jones calls her future business "a Chuck E. Cheese for special needs kids," and she said she hopes to offer a therapeutic play space to promote emotional, social and cognitive development. The space would include a theater, a laser light chalkboard room, a cyber café, and a party area.

Jones plans to open her business next spring.

The Credit Union National Association (CUNA) and credit unions are urging Congress to increase credit unions' member business lending (MBL) cap to 27.5% of assets from 12.25%. Doing so would open up more opportunity to offer MBLs, inject $13 billion in business loans into the economy and create as many as 140,000 new jobs, with no cost to taxpayers, CUNA said.


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