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Prineville theater speaks highly of non-profit lender

By John Hendricks
Published On: Feb 16 2013 01:16:56 AM CST
Updated On: Feb 16 2013 01:56:54 AM CST

NewsChannel 21's John Hendricks reports on a new lending agency coming to Bend.

PRINEVILLE, Ore. -

A Prineville theater got a boost, thanks to a non-profit lending agent that has announced plans to expand into Central Oregon.

Craft3, plans to open up an office in Bend. In a press release Thursday, the company said they are aimed at strengthening the economic, ecological and family resilience in the Pacific Northwest.

The lender has already helped one Prineville business, the Pine Theater.

In 1938, the theater opened its doors for the first time. It was temporarily closed in 1971 due to "rowdiness." Then, in the 1980s, it was closed "for good" because of an easement dispute of the existing 1938 emergency door.

Fast-forward to 2006, and enter the Mehrabis. They bought the abandoned theater, with plans to bring it back to life, but they faced several challenges, one of which was getting a loan to pay for renovation and expansion.

"Since the theater had been closed for 25 years, there was no way to prove income," Oniko Mehrabi, the owner, said Friday. "There was no way to prove that it would be successful, even though the town said it would."

The couple had trouble getting a loan until Oniko's aunt came across what's now known as Craft3, a lending and investing company.

"She said, 'Oh, my niece is going to be opening a theater in Prineville, and they need some help.'" Mehrabi said. "He said, 'Have them give me a call' -- and we gave them a call."

The non-profit works to stimulate local economies by lending money for community facilities and economic development.

In bringing the sounds of 1938 back into an abandoned building, the efforts of Craft3 created at least 10 jobs, four of which were filled by police previously unemployed, leaving this movie theater on the up and up, ready for its next upgrade.

The owners of the theater say the next big task is going digital. They are working on a fundraising campaign where they will sell horse shoes. The shoes will then be cast in the cement entry way like the Hollywood walk of fame.

Learn more about Craft3 at http://www.craft3.org/  -- and learn more about the Pine Theater at http://pinetheater.com/

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