Phil Keaggy and Great Book of John aid Birmingham couple in adoption funding
by Amber Ritchie
Phil Keaggy and Birmingham’s own Great Book of John will be playing a private fundraiser on Wednesday, July 10 at Shades Valley Community Church for Joshua and Meg McClung, who are hoping to adopt a child at the end of the year. With adoption costs totaling to around $22,000, many members of the community accepted the call to help.
Rebekah Fox, vocalist for the Great Book of John, says they are “excited to be a part of this night,” and that the band has “been friends with the McClungs for many years. We are all constantly aware of how special it is to be a part of each other’s lives, especially when milestones like these occur. When they approached us about helping with the fundraiser there was little discussion followed by a resounding ‘Yes!’”
The McClungs are adopting an infant domestically with Lifeline Children’s Services, a local Christian adoption agency that works primarily in the Southeast. The couple began the adoption process in October 2012 and hopes to be approved in approximately six months. “For anyone considering adoption, we highly recommend Lifeline, as they have been amazing to work with,” said Joshua.
Along with a concert, there will also be a silent auction that will feature items from local artists and businesses, such as Good People Brewing Company, Octane Coffee, Church Street Coffee & Books, Rojo, Soca Clothing, and many more. There will also be food to purchase from Steel City Pops and Spoonfed Grill. Tickets will be $20. All proceeds from the event will go to the McClungs.
Joshua and Meg have struggled with issues of infertility in the past and decided against pursuing fertility treatment. “We prayed about this for about six months and felt called to adoption,” Joshua says. “God has blessed us so much through His provision for this event. It has been exciting to see it all come together.”
University of Alabama at Huntsville to receive Green Fund
by Amber Ritchie
UAH students are welcoming an environmental program called the “Green Fund” to aid in on-campus sustainability projects over the next five years. The Coalition of Alabama Students for the Environment, or CASE, has partnered with UAH’s Green Club and the Chargers for Sustainability to implement the changes to their campus.
The Green Fund will support projects designed and operated by UAH students for environmental initiatives and energy-independent efficiency efforts. UAH plans on creating a student-led Office of Sustainability. “Since each fund is intended to have a student majority committee that disburses all funds, CASE feels like this will grow leadership opportunities for entering and existing students at each campus,” says Public Relations Director Aaron Traywick.
The environmental initiative at UAH is based off of a similar program assembled by students at the University of Alabama, although it was first introduced into the state of Alabama at Montevallo University in 2011. It proved to be successful; students at MU improved water efficiency, public transportation, and renewable energy resources by using their annual grant of $30,000.
The program in Tuscaloosa was put into effect in May. The university’s fund is reportedly $1 million. Environmental activists at UA are also working closely with CASE. The Statewide Sustainable Investment Project, also in conjunction with CASE, hopes to increase the amount of the Green Fund by January 2014, in order to expand its efforts to Auburn University as well as the University of Alabama at Birmingham.
“The people of Birmingham can expect to benefit the most from a Green Fund, possibly even more than Huntsville and Tuscaloosa, since UAB is such an urban campus,” says Traywick. “Student environmental projects and programs that revitalize green space and create renewable energy infrastructure at UAB are all projects that the city itself will benefit from.”
Birmingham bank leads way for small business lending
by Cody Owens
The U.S. Treasury Department released a report on Tuesday showing that the Alabama banks participating in the Small Business Lending Fund have increased their lending by nearly $720.6 million over the baseline levels.
In accordance with the positive numbers in Alabama, nationwide banks participating in the SBLF have increased their lending by $206 million in the first quarter of 2013. Matt Bezens, a spokesperson for the Treasury Department, says these numbers have been quietly increasing for some time.
“Alabama has been increasing their small business lending for multiple quarters at this point. And as this report will show, Alabama had a pretty good first quarter for 2013 as well,” says Bezens.
In Alabama, the small business lending has increased 31.5 percent in the first quarter of 2013, a promising sign for small businesses that many hope will be the driving force behind the economic recovery.
Perhaps the biggest problem faced by small business owners during the economic downturn in recent years is being able to access capital. In 2010, President Obama signed into law the Small Business Jobs Act, which allowed for banks to increase their lending to small business owners. In turn, these businesses are able to expand, hire more employees and generally keep the wheels of progress moving.
The SBLF is a component of the Small Business Jobs Act, which essentially allows interest rates for participating banks to decrease with the more money they lend to small businesses.
ServisFirst, a bank based out of Birmingham, has seen a substantial increase in their lending, Bezens explains. “ServisFirst Bank has increased their lending over the baseline by 94.5 percent. So you can see in the report that this is one of the largest increases of any of the participating banks.”
ServisFirst is one of five Alabama banks participating in the SBLF, an economic policy that some within the Treasure Department hope will lead to a sustained economic recovery.
“The Obama Administration’s Small Business Lending Fund is supporting credit to tens of thousands of American small businesses as they invest, expand and hire in every region of the country,” Deputy Secretary of the Treasury Neal Wolin said in a press release on Tuesday. “The program has supported increases in small business lending by Main Street banks to Main Street small businesses, helping to power the economic recovery in communities across America.”
Although the economic future is hard for anyone to predict, Bezens says the evidence is pointing toward a sustained increase in small business lending. “I wouldn’t want to predict the future, but what I can say is that over each quarter we’ve seen the participants in the SBLF increase their lending since first the report was published.”