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Lean Rocket Lab and American 1 Credit Union Announce Partnership to Launch a $5 Million Loan Fund

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Lean Rocket Lab and American 1 Credit Union Announce Partnership to Launch a $5 Million Loan Fund


Lean Rocket LOCAL powered by American 1 Credit Union, an entrepreneurial program focused on building programmatic and financial capacity for local small businesses

It all started with a conversation between Lean Rocket Lab (LRL) Co-Founders Ken Seneff and Brandon Marken and American 1 Credit Union President and CEO Martha Fuerstenau around a dream project to support local business owners with a small business fund.

That dream has now become a reality, with American 1 committing to a $5 million partnership over five years to help small business owners gain access to capital in the form of a small business loan program. When American 1 and LRL started collaborating on Lean Rocket LOCAL, the goal was to launch a lending resource as part of the overall program designed specifically for early-stage neighborhood-based businesses that traditionally struggle to get bank loans due to business history, personal financial and credit history. 

Continuing the success of its emerging tech startup programs, LRL launched LOCAL with a special focus on providing the same robust services and support to Jackson’s neighborhood-based businesses.

Receiving continued support from the Anchor Initiative and a generous seed contribution from the Walters Family Foundation, a foundation based in Milford, MI, with a mission to empower people to reach their full potential through innovative learning initiatives, the LRL team began unfolding its vision into a reality.

“The efforts of LOCAL to grow and strengthen Jackson’s entrepreneurs and small businesses is exciting and we’re pleased to support this work of Lean Rocket Lab,” said Carol Walters, President of the Walters Family Foundation.

LOCAL powered by American 1 Credit Union is a six-week bootcamp program, followed by several months of mentorship and pitch preparation for selected businesses. Through an application process, each chosen entity will have the opportunity to unlock milestone-based grants and consideration for additional funding through the new American 1 loan fund.

“For decades, we have invested in Jackson County and believe in the people that make up our community. The partnership with LRL allows us to take a step into small business lending while upholding our mission to create financial wellness in the communities we serve. We look forward to working with small businesses in this community, who are the backbone of this county.” said Martha Fuerstenau, President & CEO of American 1 Credit Union.

LOCAL applications are open until 5 pm on Friday, April 8, and are available on the LRL website ( Applicants will then be vetted and required to pitch in front of the LOCAL Advisory Committee, selecting the top 10 as part of the 2022 LOCAL Fellows Program.

“Having been part of a similar program in Dallas, I am excited to see this program support and build up small business owners who often don’t have the means to bring their dream business to life,” said Christie Myers, Director of LOCAL.

For the official announcement, please plan to join representatives from American 1, LOCAL, and Walters Family Foundation at 8 am on Friday, March 25, at LIVE at the Lab with, sponsored by the Jackson County Chamber of Commerce. (133 W Michigan Ave, Jackson, MI 49201).

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