Main Line investment firm Milestone Partners has bought control of a loan company specializing in borrowers with damaged credit.

Partner Adam Curtin says it's a growth industry as the nation struggles to recover from the deep recession.

Milestone bought Mariner Finance from troubled 1st Mariner Bancorp, of Baltimore, for $10 million.

The firm targets working people who are "creditworthy, but not creditworthy enough to walk into TD Bank and get a loan at a single-digit interest rate," Curtin told me.

He and his partners, who raised $240 million for new investments earlier this year, are looking to add to Mariner Finance's 41 branches, in small cities and towns such as Wyomissing, Pa.; Turnersville, N.J., and Bear, Del.

Janney Montgomery Scott, of Philadelphia, advised 1st Mariner. The sale price includes $8.9 million up front, plus $1.1 million to be paid from an escrow account after 18 months. Five percent of the company remains with 1st Mariner.

Forbes holds forth

New Jersey business-publishing heir, flat-tax advocate, and sometime GOP presidential hopeful Steve Forbes was in Center City yesterday, plugging his book, How Capitalism Will Save Us, before the World Affairs Council, which let me ask a few questions. Here's some of what Forbes had to say.

On the recovery: "They've got to strengthen the dollar. If not, it's going to be inflation, like in the 1970s. You will have misallocation of capital. You will hurt normal productive investment."

Why banks won't lend: While President Obama pushes bankers to lend more, "regulators are still telling banks, 'Tighten up your lending standards.' "

Bank reform: Congress is "still doing nothing substantive about the credit-rating agencies' cartel the SEC has created. Nothing about transparency on credit-default swaps. Things that are substantive, they're not moving on."

The GOP's candidate in 2012: "We're still in the looking stage."

His status: "I'm an agitator now."

GOP chances in 2010: "The Republicans could take the House. They have some opportunities in the Senate, in Delaware, where Mike Castle's running. And in Connecticut and Illinois."

Health care: "They should start over, starting with Medicare. Instead of turning it all into a public utility, let the private sector compete."

When markets fail: "You can deal with people who fall through the cracks in the system without upending the system. [Like with] food stamps. You can have programs for people who can't get it any other way."

Snap tight

Dynamic Defense Materials L.L.C., the military-hardware mini-conglomerate backed by Marlton investor Robert A. Lipinski, says it sold 14 of its McCurdy's Armor kits and trailers, for $800,000, to the U.S. Marine Corps, in a contract signed last week. They are used as snap-together checkpoints in Iraq.

McCurdy's Armor is a "Lego-type system" of frames, connected with steel pins, that can be reinforced with armor plate, sand, and "ballistic glass," according to Dynamic promotional materials.

The armor plates are made by different vendors throughout Pennsylvania, New Jersey, and New York, says Joseph Dimond, product specialist and military liaison for Dynamic.

Why is it called McCurdy's? "The gear is named for one of my Marines," Lance Corporal Ryan S. McCurdy, "who was killed by a sniper in Fallujah" in 2006, Dimond told me. Dimond was McCurdy's sergeant.

CardioNet for sale?

CardioNet Inc., of Conshohocken, which sells wireless heart monitors, "has retained the investment advisory firm of Lazard Freres and Co. [to review] strategic alternatives," CardioNet CEO Randy Thurman told investors, after profits fell despite growing sales.

CardioNet plans to cut $15 million in yearly expenses while automating bill collection, firing consultants, and "rationalizing" the sales force, which grew from 30 to 140 earlier this year. Thurman said he and four other top officers are giving up stock options.