By Max Leonov, news correspondent

Northeastern announced it will be launching a loan pro­gram designed to provide below-market interest rates for local businesses owned by women and minorities at a press conference Tuesday morning.

To implement this program, called Impact Lending Program, the university partnered with the Local Initiatives Support Corporation (LISC), which equips struggling communities with the capital, strategy and knowledge to help them flourish.

“We are very excited for this partnership with Northeastern” said Kevin Bose, the LISC small business president and CEO. “What we haven’t been able to do a lot of historically is help with small businesses directly and small businesses in the neighborhoods we care about and this partnership with Northeastern is going to enable us [LISC] to do that.”

This initiative – wherein a university partners with a separate corporation to provide loans to the community – is one of only a handful in the country. It is the first program of its kind to be enacted in the region, Bose said.

Northeastern University President Joseph E. Aoun hailed LISC at the press conference.

“We like your organization very much” he said. “You are able to provide members of this community with loans at a low rate and that’s the beginning, but that’s not the end. The end is really to have successful entrepreneurial activities here that will create jobs.”

Northeastern’s 2013 Institutional Master Plan set forth a plan to create more on-campus housing, improve campus sustainability and promote the wellbeing of its neighbors in the surrounding communities, such as Roxbury.

“Northeastern is following through exactly with what they promised and [with] what this partnership does,” Boston Mayor Martin J. Walsh said at the press conference. “Small businesses create jobs, they hire local people, they are the engine to our economy.”

Roxbury residents have criticized Northeastern in the past for being deceitful, in cases such as the plan to build a new dorm on the corner of Burke Street and Columbus Avenue.

Many citizens of the area have felt increasingly displaced by the expansion, as The News previously reported.  

Several small business owners were present at the press conference to show their support for the partnership.

One such business was the Tom S. Carlson Corporation, a general contracting company that works with Northeastern.

“Every single one of the guys you see working with us [is] from the community, […] Roxbury, Mission Hill, Mattapan, Dorchester – and I don’t think we’d be able to do that if we didn’t have the partnership we have with Northeastern University,” Vice President and co-owner Broovelt Lacet said.

Aoun said the Impact Lending Program aims to help Boston neighborhoods.

“This investment is not a financial investment only,” he said. “It’s an investment in the neighborhood, in making the neighborhood thrive and also in getting the neighborhood to help us.”

Photo courtesy City of Boston