Fresno First Bank and Breakaway Funding Sign Deal to Fund Businesses with Hybrid Crowdfunding

FRESNO, Calif. and SAUSALITO, Calif., Sept. 21, 2016 (GLOBE NEWSWIRE) — Fresno First Bank, the operating bank of Communities First Financial Corporation (OTCQX:CFST) serving Central California, and Breakaway Funding LLC, a securities-based crowdfunding portal, today are proud to introduce a hybrid crowdfunding process for business lending to the San Joaquin Central Valley.

Fresno First Bank will make a $10 million loan portfolio commitment available to customers who are working with Breakaway Funding to reach their capitalization or financing needs.  Breakaway Funding will work with potential customers to provide screening, counsel and an online portal, while delivering loan-ready businesses to the Bank.

In a joint statement, Steve Miller, CEO/President of Fresno First Bank (www.fresnofirstbank.com), and Kim Kaselionis, founder/managing partner of Breakaway (www.breakawayfunding.com), said:

“We are excited about this working relationship. It breaks new ground in how local businesses and entrepreneurs can take advantage of both equity crowdfunding and work with established financial institutions to meet their ultimate funding needs.

“Fresno First’s reputation and forward-thinking leadership combined with Breakaway’s crowdfunding successes will demonstrate how Breakaway’s proprietary process, the Community Capital Marketplace ™ (CCM), provides the capital necessary to businesses, who have previously found funding unavailable or unworkable.”

Fresno First Bank, founded in 2005, has more than $300 million in total assets.  The new program targets businesses from start-ups to those up to $25 million in annual revenue.  “Companies in this portion of the market,” said Miller, “often have difficulties in securing the financing they need to start or to expand their operations. By working through the hybrid crowdfunding process they will have an opportunity to raise the required equity, to strengthen their financial profile and to qualify for more traditional bank funding.”

This year, the Bank was named by Forbes as one of the Best 25 Small Businesses in America and received the All-Star Performance Award from the Great Game of Business in 2015.

Kaselionis, previously the CEO/Chairman of a successful community bank, said:  “As a former banker, I understand the importance of driving growth in a local economy by partnering with businesses who are seeking to grow.  Fresno First Bank recognizes that providing an industry-leading funding process will be extremely beneficial to the Central Valley.  That Steve, the board of directors and his management team are willing to take a leadership role in the hybrid funding process is testament to the Bank’s desire to be a community leader and to adopt industry-leading financing tools.”

Breakaway, founded in 2013, has successfully completed financing transactions with traditional financial institutions throughout Northern California, as well as through the crowdfunding process and CCM. 

About Fresno First Bank

Fresno First Bank, founded in 2005, is a wholly owned subsidiary of Communities First Financial Corporation (“Communities First”).   The Bank employs a “hands-on, know your customer” approach to accomplish its mission to provide a full range of banking services differentiated by an ability to tailor and to adjust services quickly to meet individual customers needs. Communities’ First stock is quoted on the OTCQX Marketplace under the symbol “CFST”.  Additional information about Communities First and Fresno First Bank is available from the Company’s website at www.fresnofirstbank.com or call 559-439-0200.

About Breakaway Funding LLC

Sausalito-based Breakaway Funding (www.breakawayfunding.com) is a pioneer in the Community Capital Marketplace (CCM), uniting traditional financing with equity crowdfunding to propel innovation, job creation and new opportunities for investors. Employing securities-based crowdfunding platform, Breakaway allows local businesses access to capital and flexible financing to meet their on-going capital needs by helping them to reach potential investors, including community financial institutions.  More information is available at 415-729-9482.

Forward Looking Statement Disclaimer

This earnings release may contain forward-looking statements. Forward-looking statements provide current expectations or forecasts of future events and are not guarantees of future performance, nor should they be relied upon as representing management’s views as of any subsequent date. The forward-looking statements are based on management’s expectations and are subject to a number of risks and uncertainties. Although management believes that the expectations reflected in such forward-looking statements are reasonable, actual results may differ materially from those expressed or implied in such statements. Risks and uncertainties that could cause actual results to differ materially include, without limitation, the Company’s ability to effectively execute its business plans; changes in general economic and financial market conditions; changes in interest rates; changes in the competitive environment; continuing consolidation in the financial services industry; new litigation or changes in existing litigation; losses, customer bankruptcy, claims and assessments; changes in banking regulations or other regulatory or legislative requirements affecting the Company’s business; international developments; and changes in accounting policies or procedures as may be required by the Financial Accounting Standards Board or other regulatory agencies. The Company undertakes no obligation to release publicly the results of any revisions to the forward-looking statements included herein to reflect events or circumstances after today, or to reflect the occurrence of unanticipated events.  The Company claims the protection of the safe harbor for forward-looking statements contained in the Private Securities Litigation Reform Act of 1995.

CONTACT: Contact Steve Miller – CEO 
559-439-0200