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5 high-flying perks to look for when choosing a travel credit card

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TravelPerk analyzed credit cards on the market today to identify some of the best travel-related perks that can support your future trips.
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If you spent all summer watching everyone else’s excursions to Europe and are finally ready to plan a vacation of your own, you may be in the market for a credit card to help maximize your budget.

Everyone loves to score a good deal—and credit card companies know it. Card issuers offer plenty of perks to lure consumers, from no annual fees to massive reward points early on. But tantamount to maximizing the potential of these deals is understanding how the offers work. To that end, TravelPerk analyzed credit cards on the market today to identify five of the best travel perks available to cardholders.

Most major card companies offer travel benefits, whether airline, hotel, or bank cards—the latter of which may allow points to be transferred to specific airlines or hotels. Smart travelers prioritize the perks they know they’ll exercise the most, from free checked bags to strategically picked rewards from a frequented hotel.

The first thing smart shoppers watch for while researching a new credit card is the annual percentage rate, or APR. The average APR today is about 22% as of May 2023, according to a July 10 update from Federal Reserve Economic Data, marking the highest average interest rate paid by consumers since 1994, when the Federal Reserve began tracking rates.

That figure rightly rattles some hesitant consumers: Credit card interest rates are often higher than other forms of debt, including mortgages. But high interest rates don’t necessarily mean paying more, so long as consumers manage card balances strategically.

Only a handful of users let their credit card balance carry over from one month to the next—and they’re the class of users issuers make their money from. Per the most recent FRED information (last updated July 5, 2023), fewer than 9% of large-bank customers cap their monthly balance payments at the minimum allowable. Plenty of others limit spending to what can be paid off each month. Managing your credit this way allows you to reap the benefits of credit card perks without the penalty of high fees if your budget allows for it.

It’s important to remember that credit card interest compounds daily. Put simply, missing a monthly payment results in many card issuers charging you for interest on every single day’s average card balance. In that scenario, you’d end up paying interest on your interest. It doesn’t take much for those fees to snowball out of control quickly in a high-rate environment.

Keep reading to learn more about five of the most universally beneficial rewards for travelers.


A hotel concierge handing a credit card to a guest.

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The points game

The modern-day rewards programs many of us are familiar with have been around since the mid-1980s. Accrual and points-redemption rates can vary from one loyalty program to the next, with most credit card issuers offering their own unique points schemes. Today, an entire subsection of media and true believers work overtime to poke holes in and perfect the points game to maximize potential perks. Most cards will let you earn points for certain types of purchases and even more when you purchase through their rewards platforms.

A family painting their house and looking at something on a cellphone.

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The sign-on bonus

Many credit cards offer massive sign-on bonuses: either tens of thousands of points toward spending on airfare, hotels, and other goodies, or cold, hard cash—often $150 or more. Such incentives have a catch, of course: To redeem the bonuses, you have to charge a certain amount of expenses to the card in a set time frame.

These offers may be worth pursuing if you’re fairly certain you can reach the threshold in a financially healthy way, as would be the case with already-anticipated expenses such as necessary home renovations, vehicle repairs, or private student loans. Expenses you’re already budgeting for are more likely to be paid off without accruing interest and fees that are guaranteed to dilute the value of the bonus you’re theoretically earning.

In the case of bonus travel miles, consumers are wise to read the fine print. Are these points only good on certain flights? When do they expire? It’s great to have a lot of points, but how will you spend them and what are they worth in cash?

A valuable tidbit is the fact that any purchases you make and then refund will not count toward the bonus, nor will cash advances or balance transfers from another credit card.

After all these considerations, those for whom the sign-on bonus requirement is too steep may consider a card with a lower threshold.

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Transferable points

Some cards will allow you to perform a 1:1 transfer to other loyalty programs, which may offer further bang for your buck. Capital One’s points, for example, have a 1:1 transfer ratio to more than a dozen loyalty programs.

Calculating and keeping track of how your loyalty points or miles translate between companies can be complex, but tools like the Point Calculator offer ways to log into your loyalty program and easily determine partners and transfer rates.

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Lounge access

It’s hard to overstate the sense of luxury airport lounges can offer to weary travelers with long layovers or missed connections. Lounges may offer (often free!) food and drink in the form of buffets or fine dining; charging-port access; and sometimes even a place to shower and freshen up. Not to mention, they’re a giant step up from uncomfortable plastic seating at gates.

Card issuers are stepping up their games in this capacity by expanding their lounge footprints at airports, so even bank cards may have lounges. Some cards with lounge perks require large annual fees that might not offset the use of lounges for more casual travelers. In that case, it may be best to find a card with credits to a program such as LoungeBuddy, which helps travelers find and book lounge visits.

A frustrated man at an airline counter.

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Trip insurance

Flight delays are one thing. Cancellations, though? They’re a whole separate mess that can entail spending an extra night in cities where you didn’t plan to stay.

Some cards will offer companion tickets for free or at a deeply discounted rate. More utilitarian than most one-time freebies, however, is trip insurance. That may be especially true in today’s era of air travel where more frequent extreme weather events are causing flight cancellations and airport meltdowns.

Often called trip cancellation and interruption insurance, this perk can vary a bit depending on the card. Typically, it reimburses you for charges from airlines and hotels that would otherwise not be refundable. If your trip is interrupted or canceled due to an injury or weather, you can file a claim through the credit card company. Watch out for each card’s exclusions.

Story editing by Nicole Caldwell. Copy editing by Tim Bruns. Photo selection by Lacy Kerrick.

This story originally appeared on TravelPerk and was produced and
distributed in partnership with Stacker Studio.

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5 tips for brainstorming with ChatGPT

How to avoid inaccuracy and leverage the full creative reign of ChatGPT

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ChatGPT recruited a staggering 100 million users by January 2023. As software with one of the fastest-growing user bases, we imagine even higher numbers this year. 

It’s not hard to see why. 

Amazon sellers use it to optimize product listings that bring in more sales. Programmers use it to write code. Writers use it to get their creative juices flowing. 

And occasionally, a lawyer might use it to prepare a court filing, only to fail miserably when the judge notices numerous fake cases and citations. 

Which brings us to the fact that ChatGPT was never infallible. It’s best used as a brainstorming tool with a skeptical lens on every output. 

Here are five tips for how businesses can avoid inaccuracy and leverage the full creative reign of generative AI when brainstorming.

  1. Use it as a base

Hootsuite’s marketing VP Billy Jones talked about using ChatGPT as a jumping-off point for his marketing strategy. He shares an example of how he used it to create audience personas for his advertising tactics. 

Would he ask ChatGPT to create audience personas for Hootsuite’s products? Nope, that would present too many gaps where the platform could plug in false assumptions. Instead, Jones asks for demographic data on social media managers in the US — a request easy enough for ChatGPT to gather data on. From there he pairs the output with his own research to create audience personas. 

  1. Ask open-ended questions

You don’t need ChatGPT to tell you yes or no — even if you learn something new, that doesn’t really get your creative juices flowing. Consider the difference: 

  • Does history repeat itself? 
  • What are some examples of history repeating itself in politics in the last decade?

Open-ended questions give you much more opportunity to get inspired and ask questions you may not have thought of. 

  1. Edit your questions as you go

ChatGPT has a wealth of data at its virtual fingertips to examine and interpret before spitting out an answer. Meaning you can narrow down the data for a more focused response with multiple prompts that further tweak its answers. 

For example, you might ask ChatGPT about book recommendations for your book club. Once you get an answer, you could narrow it down by adding another requirement, like specific years of release, topic categories, or mentions by reputable reviewers. Adding context to what you’re looking for will give more nuanced answers.

  1. Gain inspiration from past success

Have an idea you’re unsure about? Ask ChatGPT about successes with a particular strategy or within a particular industry. 

The platform can scour through endless news releases, reports, statistics, and content to find you relatable cases all over the world. Adding the word “adapt” into a prompt can help utilize strategies that have worked in the past and apply them to your question. 

As an example, the prompt, “Adapt sales techniques to effectively navigate virtual selling environments,” can generate new solutions by pulling from how old problems were solved. 

  1. Trust, but verify

You wouldn’t publish the drawing board of a brainstorm session. Similarly, don’t take anything ChatGPT says as truth until you verify it with your own research. 

The University of Waterloo notes that blending curiosity and critical thinking with ChatGPT can help to think through ideas and new angles. But, once the brainstorming is done, it’s time to turn to real research for confirmation.

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Inflation of goods vs. gold: How these costs have changed over time

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SD Bullion charted the changes in gold prices compared to U.S. inflation, using data from the World Gold Council and the Bureau of Labor Statistics.
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Gold has historically played an essential role as a store of value in economies worldwide.

The U.S. dollar used to be backed by gold, meaning money was exchangeable for an amount of the metal. This is known as the gold standard, which the U.S. started to abandon in 1933 during the Great Depression. With the rise of modern monetary policy, other countries followed suit and switched to the fiat currency used now, which is money backed by a government, not a physical asset.

Nowadays, gold is valued as a commodity to invest in, and many people see it as a hedge against high inflation and a safe-haven asset during times of recession or political tensions. Historically, the price tends to increase when inflation becomes high.

Since there is a limited global supply of gold, the metal, known for its luster and corrosion resistance, has earned a reputation as an asset with enduring value. Investors often seek out gold and other tangible commodities to offset the dollar’s weaker buying power when prices of goods and services rise.

While gold has indeed kept its value over time, its link with inflation hasn’t always held up, particularly in recent decades. Gold prices change for many reasons and can be volatile in the short term. Still, many people look to gold as one way to diversify long-term investments.

SD Bullion charted the changes in gold prices compared to U.S. inflation over the last decade, using data from the World Gold Council and the Bureau of Labor Statistics.


A dual line chart showing the fluctuations in gold prices compared to steadily increasing U.S. inflation.

SD Bullion

A decade of gold prices

When fiat currencies lose value quickly during inflation, gold has historically become more appealing to investors. However, parts of the past decade followed a somewhat unusual pattern. While inflation increased over those 10 years, the price of gold was in decline in the mid-2010s.

A significant reason behind that drop in gold prices—in contrast with rising inflation—was the 2013 gold crash, when the metal’s price fell 15% in two trading days. Weak sales of gold during the Lunar New Year, rumors of the Central Bank of Cyprus selling gold as part of a bailout, and noticeably high volumes of computerized trading were among the factors that influenced the slump before prices started upward again.

During the COVID-19 pandemic, the high-risk atmosphere and low interest rates incentivized investors to switch to gold to safeguard their wealth. The rising demand for gold—partially in reaction to talk of government stimulus, inflation, and economic downturn—made the metal outperform other assets in 2020, the World Gold Council noted. That August, the price of gold hit $2,067.15 per ounce, a record high at the time.

In 2023, gold prices continued to reach new highs amid steep inflation, attributed largely to demand for the metal in emerging markets, according to the World Gold Council. The industry group forecasted that escalating conflict in the Middle East would add to inflation fears, likely raising the price of gold in 2024.

Story editing by Rose Shilling. Copy editing by Tim Bruns.

This story originally appeared on SD Bullion and was produced and
distributed in partnership with Stacker Studio.

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The county receiving the most Small Business Administration loans in each state

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Flippa identified the county in each state where applicants were approved for the most Small Business Administration loan funds per capita in 2023.
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The Small Business Administration backed loans worth $27.5 billion through its primary lending program in 2023—rising well above pre-COVID-19 pandemic levels as government officials aim to stabilize the economy.

Many small businesses get their start and scale up with SBA loans, which increased lending to Black, Latino, and women entrepreneurs in the past few years in step with efforts to become more equitable.

Flippa found the county within each state where applicants were approved for the most SBA loan funds per capita in fiscal year 2023, which ended in September. The analysis was based on the SBA’s most common loan program, known as 7(a) loans. States are listed in alphabetical order.

SBA’s 7(a) program provides extra security to lenders when they loan money to small businesses that might otherwise be considered too risky to grant. Loans can be for up to $5 million, but in 2023, nearly 7 in 10 loans were for amounts of $350,000 or less. Small businesses can use these funds for real estate acquisitions or improvements, working capital, supplies and equipment, and for other business startup or acquisition purposes.

Barriers do still exist for eligibility, including income, credit history, and location, but SBA loans can be fruitful for founders who don’t qualify for conventional business financing. They can also provide protection against high and volatile interest rates, as SBA-backed loans have maximum interest rates that are predictable and often lower than other loans.

All but two of the #1 ranked counties had populations of less than 500,000—most smaller than 100,000. That’s not surprising, as the Census Bureau classifies about 99% of U.S. counties as small. Still, it signifies that these smaller communities are building successful entrepreneurial environments. In most cases, their small businesses are able to succeed beyond those within the major U.S. population centers—at least in terms of success in gaining SBA funding.

Read on to see whether your county was among those receiving the most SBA loans.


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Alabama: Cleburne County

– SBA loan funds approved: $5.6 million (About $375 per resident)
– Number of loans: 5

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Alaska: Sitka Borough

– SBA loan funds approved: $6.1 million (About $716 per resident)
– Number of loans: 4

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Arizona: La Paz County

– SBA loan funds approved: $3.1 million (About $185 per resident)
– Number of loans: 1

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Arkansas: Lawrence County

– SBA loan funds approved: $8.5 million (About $524 per resident)
– Number of loans: 3

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California: Madera County

– SBA loan funds approved: $29.0 million (About $186 per resident)
– Number of loans: 16

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Colorado: Summit County

– SBA loan funds approved: $20.6 million (About $662 per resident)
– Number of loans: 23

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Connecticut: Hartford County

– SBA loan funds approved: $95.6 million (About $106 per resident)
– Number of loans: 212

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Delaware: New Castle County

– SBA loan funds approved: $49.8 million (About $88 per resident)
– Number of loans: 121

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Florida: Gilchrist County

– SBA loan funds approved: $5.6 million (About $317 per resident)
– Number of loans: 2

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Georgia: McIntosh County

– SBA loan funds approved: $10.0 million (About $888 per resident)
– Number of loans: 3

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Hawaii: Kauai County

– SBA loan funds approved: $4.1 million (About $56 per resident)
– Number of loans: 8

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Idaho: Shoshone County

– SBA loan funds approved: $4.8 million (About $365 per resident)
– Number of loans: 4

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Illinois: Logan County

– SBA loan funds approved: $8.2 million (About $291 per resident)
– Number of loans: 2

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Indiana: Bartholomew County

– SBA loan funds approved: $16.4 million (About $201 per resident)
– Number of loans: 10

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Iowa: Chickasaw County

– SBA loan funds approved: $2.5 million (About $207 per resident)
– Number of loans: 6

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Kansas: Gove County

– SBA loan funds approved: $2.0 million (About $721 per resident)
– Number of loans: 1

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Kentucky: Owen County

– SBA loan funds approved: $5.1 million (About $456 per resident)
– Number of loans: 2

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Louisiana: Claiborne Parish

– SBA loan funds approved: $6.0 million (About $412 per resident)
– Number of loans: 5

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Maine: Knox County

– SBA loan funds approved: $5.3 million (About $132 per resident)
– Number of loans: 19

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Maryland: Allegany County

– SBA loan funds approved: $6.5 million (About $95 per resident)
– Number of loans: 9

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Massachusetts: Nantucket County

– SBA loan funds approved: $3.3 million (About $240 per resident)
– Number of loans: 8

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Michigan: Keweenaw County

– SBA loan funds approved: $4.3 million (About $2,101 per resident)
– Number of loans: 5

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Minnesota: Marshall County

– SBA loan funds approved: $5.1 million (About $559 per resident)
– Number of loans: 4

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Mississippi: Smith County

– SBA loan funds approved: $7.3 million (About $506 per resident)
– Number of loans: 14

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Missouri: Pettis County

– SBA loan funds approved: $17.4 million (About $406 per resident)
– Number of loans: 9

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Montana: Sweet Grass County

– SBA loan funds approved: $4.8 million (About $1,312 per resident)
– Number of loans: 1

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Nebraska: Nuckolls County

– SBA loan funds approved: $2.2 million (About $521 per resident)
– Number of loans: 1

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Nevada: Carson City

– SBA loan funds approved: $13.3 million (About $229 per resident)
– Number of loans: 15

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New Hampshire: Rockingham County

– SBA loan funds approved: $35.3 million (About $113 per resident)
– Number of loans: 117

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New Jersey: Cape May County

– SBA loan funds approved: $26.7 million (About $280 per resident)
– Number of loans: 27

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New Mexico: Torrance County

– SBA loan funds approved: $4.2 million (About $280 per resident)
– Number of loans: 1

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New York: Essex County

– SBA loan funds approved: $11.5 million (About $306 per resident)
– Number of loans: 8

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North Carolina: Dare County

– SBA loan funds approved: $13.3 million (About $362 per resident)
– Number of loans: 8

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North Dakota: Oliver County

– SBA loan funds approved: $384,000 (About $208 per resident)
– Number of loans: 1

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Ohio: Putnam County

– SBA loan funds approved: $7.4 million (About $214 per resident)
– Number of loans: 10

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Oklahoma: Craig County

– SBA loan funds approved: $4.4 million (About $311 per resident)
– Number of loans: 2

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Oregon: Wasco County

– SBA loan funds approved: $6.1 million (About $229 per resident)
– Number of loans: 7

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Pennsylvania: Jefferson County

– SBA loan funds approved: $6.8 million (About $153 per resident)
– Number of loans: 8

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Rhode Island: Kent County

– SBA loan funds approved: $14.9 million (About $88 per resident)
– Number of loans: 39

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South Carolina: Jasper County

– SBA loan funds approved: $5.5 million (About $192 per resident)
– Number of loans: 5

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South Dakota: Deuel County

– SBA loan funds approved: $1.5 million (About $341 per resident)
– Number of loans: 1

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Tennessee: Decatur County

– SBA loan funds approved: $3.0 million (About $262 per resident)
– Number of loans: 2

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Texas: Menard County

– SBA loan funds approved: $1.5 million (About $745 per resident)
– Number of loans: 1

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Utah: Piute County

– SBA loan funds approved: $1.4 million (About $746 per resident)
– Number of loans: 1

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Vermont: Windham County

– SBA loan funds approved: $9.2 million (About $201 per resident)
– Number of loans: 15

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Virginia: Richmond County

– SBA loan funds approved: $6.9 million (About $777 per resident)
– Number of loans: 22

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Washington: Columbia County

– SBA loan funds approved: $1.3 million (About $331 per resident)
– Number of loans: 3

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West Virginia: Marshall County

– SBA loan funds approved: $5.3 million (About $172 per resident)
– Number of loans: 3

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Wisconsin: Vilas County

– SBA loan funds approved: $13.6 million (About $597 per resident)
– Number of loans: 8

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Wyoming: Sheridan County

– SBA loan funds approved: $13.9 million (About $451 per resident)
– Number of loans: 7

Story editing by Ashleigh Graf. Copy editing by Paris Close. Photo selection by Michael Flocker.

This story originally appeared on Flippa and was produced and
distributed in partnership with Stacker Studio.

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