Banking and finance: Circle Bank to educate Keiretsu-funded startups; 30% solar grant to end

Novato-based Circle Bank has partnered with Keiretsu Forum, said to be the world's largest angel investor network, to provide financing advice to startup and early-stage companies in the North Bay and San Francisco.

Through the arrangement, Circle Bank becomes the exclusive bank for the North Bay and San Francisco chapters of the forum, according to bank spokesman Gary Tobin. The institution will educate members on ongoing financing beyond that of angel investors, participate in forum events and give presentations as requested. The bank will not participate in approval of Keiretsu investments.

[caption id="attachment_19518" align="alignright" width="108" caption="Kim Kaselionis"][/caption]

"Circle Bank is a perfect partner for Keiretsu Forum in San Francisco and the North Bay," said Randy Williams, Keiretsu chief executive and founder, in a statement. "We have met extensively with Kim (Kaselionis, Circle Bank CEO and chairwoman) and her staff, and they have a thorough understanding of the banking needs of the entrepreneurs."

The partnership adds to the bank's other initiatives supporting startup and early-stage businesses. That includes the Women's Initiative for Self-Employment loan program, which has funded several entrepreneurs.

Created in 2000, Keiretsu has 850 accredited investors as members, 21 chapters worldwide and has invested more than $260 million.***

Adam Capital, a Sonoma-based lender specializing in financing small-scale solar projects, is encouraging solar companies to look into a potential "safe harbor clause" that could extend a 30 percent federal grant on solar projects that is set to expire at the end of this year.

The lender has used the grant, described in section 1603 of the American Reinvestment and Recovery Act of 2009, as collateral when lending to "rooftop-scale projects" that Adam Capital CEO Adam Boucher said are typically too small-scale to obtain financing from a bank.

While discussions about the federal grant are ongoing and subject to change, the clause might allow some projects to obtain the grant through 2016 if developers invest a portion of their total project cost by the end of this year.

Those who are looking to finance projects using the grant in the future could still have time to do so if they act by December 31, Mr. Boucher said. The lender emphasized that some experts and government officials disagreed about how to interpret the complex program and advised developers to seek tax and legal advice to ensure compliance.***

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