A new startup company launched by Emily Blaylock – and spun out of Northwest Bank & Trust Co. – is aiming to help economic development projects in the Quad Cities and beyond move forward. Untamed Equity LLC, the brainchild of Ms. Blaylock, Northwest’s chief lending officer, launched in early July as a standalone company designed […]
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A new startup company launched by Emily Blaylock – and spun out of Northwest Bank & Trust Co. – is aiming to help economic development projects in the Quad Cities and beyond move forward. Untamed Equity LLC, the brainchild of Ms. Blaylock, Northwest’s chief lending officer, launched in early July as a standalone company designed to originate and service tax increment financing (TIF) loans. Ms. Blaylock, a Bettendorf native, is president and owner. Joe Slavens, Northwest’s president and CEO, is a minority owner and advisor to the new venture. “This is a very very niche product,” said Ms. Blaylock, who grew her own company out of her Capstone graduate project at Stonier Graduate School of Banking. “Banks do monetize TIF, that (service) is out there. But we turned TIF monetization into a whole program.” Untamed Equity – believed to be the nation’s first female-owned company focused on TIF monetization – will assist developers in advancing their new projects by allowing them to borrow against the TIF incentives that traditionally come in over a period of several years. In an interview with the QCBJ, Ms. Blaylock said her services will help “fill the gap equity developers need to be able to complete a project.” The company’s goal, she said, is reflected in her tagline: Capturing Capital to Build Communities. “We feel good we found a gap in the market and developed the expertise and a network to do this,” she added. Mr. Slavens, whose banking company has been no stranger to entrepreneurial startups, said Untamed Equity grew out of the bank’s own TIF lending. “We did our first deal about 10 years ago, it was a one-off (deal) ... and we went on.” Ms. Blaylock, who grew up in Mr. Slavens’ neighborhood, brought her financial expertise to Northwest Bank six years ago. “When Emily joined us, we knew we needed to find new ways to deliver values to borrowers,” Mr. Slavens said. “This is the one that proved itself,” he said of the TIF monetization program. Ms. Blaylock, who will remain as chief lending officer for a transition period, actually laid the foundation for Untamed Equity while employed by Mr. Slavens and enrolled in Stonier Graduate School of Banking at Wharton School, University of Pennsylvania, from 2017-2020. She developed the concept of creating a niche division and product line around TIF lending as her Capstone project. With an MBA in accounting from Indiana University, Ms. Blaylock has enjoyed a 15-year banking and accounting career that included stints at KPMG in Chicago, Royal Bank of Canada in Atlanta. She later moved home and working for Wells Fargo and Great Southern Bank, serving as its market president, before joining Northwest. “Here on the executive team I am involved in strategy and commercial loans,” she said, recalling how the TIF lending platform proved to be “a really good profitable program.” During her research, the bank launched the program. “It’s been exciting to be part of this idea from the beginning,” Ms. Blaylock said. “Basically, I’m not a bank in this new company. We do the loan origination and servicing piece, but I don’t hold the loans on my balance sheet.” By moving the program outside Northwest, she said her company will not be restricted by the bank’s lending limits. While Northwest will be one of her main lenders, she said the firm also will work with other lenders. “This is TIF lending 2.0,” Mr. Slavens said. “Emily had the opportunity to learn from the work we did to get where we are today.” The bank, which did its first TIF loan in 2013, now has TIF loans in nine states that have supported more than $450 million in new economic development. Mr. Slavens said Untamed Equity will focus on originating and servicing TIF loans. “We (the bank) get to leverage our balance sheet and she’ll be able to leverage fees,” he added. Untamed Equity, which will have its office in the Northwest Bank NorthPark Tower, employs a total of five. Her team includes: Corey Martin, vice president, Loan Origination & Syndications; Jeremy Voss, business development specialist; Beth Rogers, servicing specialist; and Blake Brooks, analyst. “One thing you see in life is a lot of people who have the dream to be an entrepreneur, own their own business,” he said. “But sometimes even for those who have the dream, the stars have to align and sometimes you have to align them for yourself.”