Wayne State M.B.A. team lends its expertise to Hebrew Free Loan

From its beginnings in 1895 making $5-10 loans for clothes and coal, through its support of waves of immigrants through the first half of the 20th century, to more recent initiatives to support small businesses and college students, Hebrew Free Loan (HFL) has always adapted to meet the changing needs of Metro Detroit’s and Michigan’s Jewish community.

There are a variety of reasons HFL has continued to flourish over the last 120 years. One such reason is that the organization’s leaders continue to be committed to learning and trying new things.

A long and productive dialogue

One recent example of this commitment was at a dinner meeting on Nov. 5. At this meeting, a team of M.B.A. candidates from the Wayne State University School of Business had a long and productive dialogue with leaders from HFL’s Marvin I. Danto Small Business Loan Program on how the organization might be best positioned to meet whatever challenges and opportunities come next.

During the course of the evening, the WSU team, who are all enrolled in Prof. Paul Reagan’s M.B.A. course, titled "Designing High-Performance Organizations" (MBA 7620) presented on a wide variety of topics, ranging from mission development and measurement to marketing and database management.

The HFL representatives present were Michael Graub and Michael Banks, Danto Loan Program co-chairs; Michael Berke, HFL board president; Rob Schwartz, Danto program manager; and Joanne Danto, HFL board member. The WSU team was comprised of David Contorer, Kacey Graves, Debashish Talapatra and Mikah Wisner.

Contorer, who also happens to be the executive director of HFL, continued the conversation later into the evening with the full Danto Loan Program committee.

"I am confident that we (HFL) will act on many, if not all, of the ideas my WSU colleagues and I presented to make the Danto Program the best it can be on many different fronts," Contorer said.

Building on a tradition of excellence and service

By all accounts, Hebrew Free Loan has been a "high-performing" organization for well over a century.

What began in the back of a Detroit shoemaker’s store with the commitment of 10 men to contribute $50 each, has grown to support Jewish community members across Michigan with medical and living expenses or to fulfill their dreams of attending college, adopting children or opening their own businesses.

HFL loans have been interest free since the very beginning and, according to Contorer, have an astounding repayment rate of 98.5 percent.

HFL’s Marvin I. Danto Small Business Loan Program provides loans of up to $100,000 to majority Jewish-owned businesses anywhere in Michigan. Over the last three years, more than $1 million has been loaned to more than 45 companies.

For more information on Hebrew Free Loan’s history, mission and programs, visit https://www.hfldetroit.org/.

From Midtown to your town, Wayne State means business

Much like Hebrew Free Loan, the WSU School of Business has a long tradition of serving Metro Detroit’s Jewish community. Since its founding in 1946, the school has provided educational opportunities to Jewish students, from immigrants and first-generation college graduates to the children and grandchildren of leaders in government and industry.

A benefit that attracts many students to the Wayne State School of Business, regardless of their religious or cultural background, is proximity and access to the leaders of Metro Detroit businesses and non-profit organizations.

Paul Reagan has taken full advantage of this benefit in leading the MBA 7620 course for more than a decade.

"Since the beginning, our M.B.A. teams have been making a difference at the board and director level to drive high-impact change," Reagan said. "We look for the opportunities, we develop the partnerships, and we go for the greatest impact for our teams and the organizations we work with. The work David and his team are doing with Hebrew Free Loan builds on that legacy."

For more information on the M.B.A. program and other degree and certificate programs in the Wayne State University School of Business, please visit http://business.wayne.edu.