By Pat Loeb

PHILADELPHIA (CBS) – There’s good news for aspiring entrepreneurs in Philadelphia.

Citizens Bank is the first to kick in $3-million to a new fund for small business loans.

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A big bank like Citizens, with $145-billion in assets, has a hard time lending to startups that need modest funding, says president Dan Fitzpatrick, but it can loan $3-million to the non-profit PIDC for a fund that makes those small loans:

“They’re able to have more flexibility in terms and conditions on things that collateral as businesses are getting started than a regulated bank would.”

PIDC loaned $27-million to 85 small businesses last year, in amounts as small as $50,000, according to CEO John Grady:

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“We’re reaching customers that are not going to have access to credit otherwise.”

Among them is Keith Leaphart, who started the design and print shop “Replica Creative” with the goal of employing ex-offenders. He’s gone from five employees to more than 20 and is about to open a third location.

“So it’s been unbelievable for my business and from the human impact,” he says.

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The money from Citizens is the first investment in a fund PIDC hopes will reach $30-million for new loans.