Not only is the Lehigh River a great place to fish, soon it will be a great place for manufacturing high tech fishing rods.

With the help of a micro-loan, Scott Belisle started the Lehigh Fishing Company, and is in the process of patenting a new design and method of manufacturing carbon fiber fishing rods, hunting arrows, and golf club and hockey stick shafts.

After losing his job during the recession, Belisle turned to what he knew best – fishing, a sport he enjoyed since he was nine years old. He had an idea for a new type of carbon fiber fly rod, and turned to MetroAction for an $18,000 loan.

MetroAction is a micro-lender to nine counties in northeastern Pennsylvania: Carbon, Lackawanna, Luzerne, Monroe, Pike, Schuylkill, Susquehanna, Wayne and Wyoming. They've given out $3.5 million in loans to small businesses, with a typical loan in the $18,000 range.

"We provide small business loans and training," explained Christina Hitchcock, Business Development Administrator at MetroAction. "Our typical client usually cannot get financing from a bank.

"We don't just want to provide financing to businesses – just give them a loan and say, 'make the best of it," she continued. "We want to make sure that they have the training that they need to be successful."

To help small businesses, in addition to loans, MetroAction provides and training through programs such as their: Small Business Institute and Marketing Mastery Program. There offer two-day and eight-week versions of these programs.

For many small business owners who would find attending workshops too time consuming, MetroAction has created a series of webinars, half-hour-long sessions on topics such as: "Ask the Expert: 3 Things Every Business Should Know About Marketing," "Financing Your Business," "Marketing 101," and the introductory program, "Business Basics Webinar." These are offered for a nominal charge.

Three additional webinars are free: "Applying for a Small Business Loan," "Submitting Your Business Planning Templates," and "Writing a Business Plan." All these webinars are available at: metroaction.org/blog/webinars.

Additionally, MetroAction runs interactive webinars:

Ÿ Ask the Expert Webinar: 3 Things Every Business Should Know About Human Resources - Webinar: Wednesday, November 10, 8:30 a.m. - 9:30 a.m.

Ÿ Getting Started with Facebook Webinar: Tuesday, November 16, 9 a.m. - 11 a.m.

Ÿ Ask the Expert Webinar: 3 Things Every Person Should Know About Their Credit - Webinar: Wednesday, December 8, 8:30 a.m. - 9:30 a.m.

Ÿ Grant Writing 101 Webinar: Tuesday, December 14, 9 a.m. - 11 a.m.

There is a charge. Registration is required and can be made at: (570) 341-0270, or at info@MetroAction.org.

"MetroAction started in 1977 to combat the blight and deterioration of the Scranton area after the coal mining and railroading industries left. In 1997, they became a micro-lender. In 1999, they were certified by the U.S. Dept. of Treasury as a Community Development Financial Institution, and in 2000, the Small Business Administration certified them as a micro-lender.

"Micro-loans are smaller loans geared toward smaller businesses," Hitchcock explained. "Typically, SBA loans are up to $50,000. Our small business program goes from $2,500 up to $75,000. We are geared toward businesses that have fewer than 100 employees, and less than $3 million in sales. The funding can be used for working capital, equipment machinery purchases, renovations, and other typical uses.

"The funding comes directly from us. The business owner makes their application to us. They would have to submit a business plan for us to review. We have a local review committee. The process takes from 30 to 45 days. The period of the loans range from one to five years."

For more information, see: www.metroaction.org. To obtain a copy of their last annual report, see: www.metroaction.org/docs/MA_AR_2010.pdf