Huntsville, AR 72740
Give Us a Call(479) 738-1585

About

History

The oldest loan fund in Arkansas

FORGE was founded in 1988 by a group of organic farmers from throughout the Ozarks bioregion of Arkansas, Missouri and Oklahoma. They were concerned that farmers wanting to incorporate sustainable agricultural practices into their farming systems were being hindered by a lack of affordable capital. One of their solutions was to form a revolving loan fund that would be sensitive to the needs of small farmers.

As the years went by the members of FORGE realized that agriculture was only one of the needs of rural communities and that the loan program needed to include businesses that provide services and stable employment opportunities to families living in rural areas.

In 1998 FORGE became a SBA Microlender and now offers technical assistance to start up businesses. In 2010 FORGE became a Certified Development Financial Institution (CDFI). While the range of the programs has expanded, the goals of FORGE have remained the same: to link borrowers with investors to create healthy sustainable communities throughout the Ozarks.

The mission of FORGE is to promote community development and economic sustainability by linking investors with borrowers, urban and rural communities, consumers with producers, and low income groups with basic affordable credit.

  • Community Development Financial Institutions – or CDFIs – are mission-driven financial institutions that are dedicated to providing financial services to meet the needs of economically disadvantaged individuals within underserved communities.
  • CDFIs invest in local communities and the residents who live there by providing critically needed financing often unavailable from mainstream financial institutions.
  • CDFIs are certified by the U.S. Department of the Treasury’s Community Development Financial Institutions Fund – known as the CDFI Fund. In order to become a certified CDFI, the financial institution must: have a primary mission of promoting community development; provide financial products and services; serve one or more defined low-income target markets; maintain accountability to the community it serves; and be a legal non-governmental entity.
  • All CDFIs share a common mission of serving low-income communities. CDFIs are commonly loan funds, credit unions, community banks, or venture capital funds.
  • Certified CDFIs are part of a national network promoting economic growth in America’s underserved communities by financing businesses, creating jobs, and rebuilding neighborhoods.
  • As a CDFI, Forge Community Loan Fund puts the community first and values local, economic growth.
our board
James Morgan, Ph.D.

Jim Morgan raises sheep in Washington County, Arkansas. He and his wife Teresa’s focus is to make the farm sustainable financially, socially, and environmentally. Besides raising breeding stock, they direct market their lamb at the Fayetteville Farmers Market and to local restaurants. Jim has been a member of the FORGE Board of Trustees since 1995. Jim’s background in sustainable agriculture and political issues has led to his involvement in promoting sustainable communities that use their natural resources wisely. Jim also works for, writes and gives presentations for national sheep associations.

Philip Adams

Philip Adams

Vice President

Philip Adams is the Director of Arkansas PROMISE, a five-year, $35 million federal grant to the University of Arkansas and the Arkansas Department of Education. Services provided through PROMISE include paid work experiences, intensive case management, employment training and support for youth and families, benefits counseling, and health and wellness education. Families also participate in financial literacy workshops that focus on asset building, financial planning and financial management. Adams was recently honored by the Association on Higher Education and Disability for his work to promote social justice for people with disabilities in their communities. Adams formerly worked as an organic farmer in Nashville, TN and as special assistant for agency and legislative affairs in Arkansas Governor Mike Beebe’s office. He earned a bachelor’s degree in Spanish from Hendrix College in Conway, Arkansas, and lives with his wife and daughter in Springdale.

Jessica Fritts

Jessica Fritts

Secretary/Treasurer

Jessica Fritts is a practicing attorney licensed in the state of Arkansas since 2017. A native of Huntsville and a graduate of Huntsville High School, she graduated with a bachelor’s degree in poultry science and agricultural business from the University of Arkansas in 2013. She received her Juris Doctor degree from the University of Arkansas School of Law in 2016 and is finishing her masters of law (LL.M.) in Agricultural and Food Law from the University of Arkansas School of Law. Jessica lives in Huntsville.

Mary Sanchez

Mary Sanchez

Board Member

Mary is the Director of Immigrant Programs for Credit Counseling of Arkansas. Before becoming a member of the FORGE Board of Trustees, Mary served on Boards of the Winthrop Rockefeller Foundation, Rebuilding Together, The Fayetteville Community Foundation, The Hispanic Women’s Organization of Arkansas and the Multicultural Center of NWA. Mary is a certified credit counselor and has a BS/BA degree in Data Processing and Quantitative Analysis. She worked as a contract manager for the aviation industry and as an English teacher in Argentina. Mary is an artist and her family runs a restaurant in Fayetteville.

Daniel Rainey, Ph.D.

Daniel Rainey, Ph.D.

Board Member

Daniel Rainey serves as an Associate Professor and Graduate Program Coordinator for the Department of Agricultural Economics and Agribusiness in the Dale Bumpers College of Agricultural, Food & Life Sciences at the University of Arkansas. His research areas include examining the dynamics of local food systems, the impact of agri-tourism on families and communities, and the human capital needs for the global economy. Dr. Rainey holds a bachelor’s degree in agricultural business management from the University of Arkansas, and masters and doctoral degrees in agricultural economics from Purdue University. A former trustee of the Winthrop Rockefeller Foundation, he currently serves on the Governor’s Council of Economic Advisors and is faculty advisor to the chapter of Minorities in Agriculture, Natural Resources, and Related Sciences at the University of Arkansas. Dr. Rainey lives in Fayetteville.

our staff
C.J. Sentell, Ph.D.

C.J. Sentell, Ph.D.

Executive Director

C.J. has served as the Executive Director of FORGE since February 2018, after having joined the staff in 2015 as the Central Arkansas Regional Director. A native of Shreveport, Louisiana, C.J. has been an entrepreneur from a young age, starting several successful businesses while still in high school. An alumnus of Hendrix College, C.J. holds a master’s degree from the University of Cambridge and a doctorate of philosophy from Vanderbilt University. After graduate studies, C.J. returned to Arkansas to help found the Grass Roots Farmers’ Cooperative, a project of Heifer USA that helps sustainable livestock farmers across the state build a food system that is economically viable, environmentally sustainable, and socially just. Along with his wife, Jessica, and their two kids, C.J. also runs a grass-fed cattle operation on their farm in the Ozark Mountains.

Carson Roddy

Carson Roddy

Director of Operations and Compliance

Originally from Louisiana, Carson moved to Arkansas in the year 2000. She has attended Bossier Parish Community College, North Arkansas Community College, Fort Hayes State University, and received several job oriented certifications from MTI. I have worked at Decision Point (a drug and alcohol rehabilitation center), Country Mountain Inn, Interpack & Partitions but my proudest accomplishment is having worked at FORGE, Inc. for over ten years. I began working for FORGE in 2007 and find it very rewarding to work in the nonprofit industry. I currently serve on the Advisory Board for the Binnick Group representing CDFIs to offer geographical advice for the NMTC. She is the proud mother of four young men and currently has eight grandchildren. She enjoys spending time with family, fishing, and gardening.

Mark Nelson

Mark Nelson

Director of Lending

Mark was born and raised in Northwest Arkansas. After graduating from Huntsville High School, he earned a bachelor’s degree in banking and finance from the University of Arkansas in Fayetteville. Mark has worked in the banking industry for over 35 years, spending almost all of that time in lending, and most recently as a Senior Loan Officer at Arvest Bank in Huntsville. Mark is involved in many community organizations, including the Huntsville Area Chamber of Commerce, the Huntsville Lions Club, and the Northwest Arkansas Regional Housing Authority Development District, where he has held various leadership positions over the years. Mark lives in Huntsville with his wife of 28 years and has two grown children.

Jay Young, MBA

Jay Young, MBA

Central and East Arkansas Regional Director & Director of Minority Business Development

Jay has more than 20 years of business operations experience in the engineering and technology, financial services, healthcare, and consulting arenas. Jay possesses onsite and virtual international team experience from Germany, Switzerland, and Mexico. Jay has served as a C-Suite level professional, is a business owner focused primarily on but not limited to risk management and succession planning. He understands collaboration with the CEO and other senior and C-level employees to affect results. Jay has provided more than 15 years of volunteer service with over 8 years directly associated with teaching business concepts and life skills as a Prison Entrepreneurship Program (PEP) mentor and a Service Core of Retired Executives (SCORE) counselor. He earned a M.B.A. in Entrepreneurship from University of Dallas in Irving, TX and a B.S. in Industrial Technology with a minor in Operations Management from Texas A&M University in Commerce, TX. Jay values family time with wife Julia, and three children, Amon, Jerusha, and Lauren.

Megan Whitehead, MBA

Megan Whitehead, MBA

South Arkansas Regional Director

In addition to her work as the South Arkansas Regional Director at FORGE, Megan works as an Instructor of Finance at the Southern Arkansas University in Magnolia. She has a B.S. in Agriculture Business and a M.B.A., both from Southern Arkansas University. Prior to a transition to full-time faculty, Megan was the Center Director for the SAU Arkansas Small Business and Technology Development Center. She has extensive experience working with small businesses and enjoys being able to assist entrepreneurs achieve their business goals. She is active in her church and works with the youth at First Baptist Church in Taylor and she also sits on the board of the Walker’s Creek/Stateline Public Water Authority, serving as its secretary.

Brea Cook

Brea Cook

Loan Manager

Originally from Cambridge, Illinois, Brea attended Black Hawk East College in Kewanee, Illinois. After graduating with an Associate’s degree in Applied Animal & Equestrian Science, Brea trained racehorses in Chicago and worked as a scheduling coordinator at an animal boarding facility. She then took a position with a wholesale meat packing company, Valley Meats, overseeing accounts across the country. Eventually relocating to Northwest Arkansas, Brea learned of FORGE’s work promoting community and economic development and knew she wanted to be a part of the team. The endless possibilities for outdoor activities, kayaking, fishing, hiking and horseback riding are a few of the reasons Brea moved to the area.

Brittany Blisard

Brittany Blisard

Administrative Assistant

Brittany was born and raised in Huntsville, AR. Where she graduated high school with honors. Brittany is your typical small town girl and loves hunting, fishing, riding four wheelers and horses, rodeoing with her in-laws, spending free time at the river with friends and family, and going jeeping whenever possible. Brittany grew up on a farm and still lives on that farm with her husband and two young boys. Brittany is currently attending college to receive her associate’s degree in accounting and later on pursuing her bachelor’s degree.

Contact

Phone: (479) 738-1585
Email: forge@forgefund.org
Fax: (479) 738-6288
Mailing Address: P.O. Box 1138
Huntsville, AR 72740

forge-logo

Legal

The Federal Equal Credit Oppurtunity Act (ECOA) prohibits creditors from discriminating against credit applicants on the basis of race, color, religion, national origin, sex, marital status, age (provided the applicant has the capacity to enter into a binding contract), because all or part of the applicant’s income derives from any public assistance program, or because the applicant has in good faith exercised any right under the Consumer Credit Protection Act.

Mission

FORGE, through its community based lending activities, seeks to promote community development and enhance the quality of life and economic sustainability of agrarian communities by linking...

Investors with Borrowers
Urban and Rural Communities
Consumers with Producers
Low income groups with Basic Affordable Credit

Disclaimer Notice: The Federal Equal Credit Opportunity Act (ECOA) prohibits creditors from discriminating against credit applicants on the basis of race, color, religion, national origin, sex, marital status, age (provided the applicant has the capacity to enter into a binding contract), because all or part of the applicant’s income derives from any public assistance program, or because the applicant has in good faith exercised any right under the Consumer Credit Protection Act.