Investing helps build jobs and the economy in Black and Brown neighborhoods
Access to new capital provides the 17 beneficiaries of ThriveOn Small Business Loans from the Greater Milwaukee Foundation with the ability to reopen, cease, maintain, or improve business operations in a variety of ways. About 40 jobs are expected to be created or restored.
The foundation is quick to provide low-interest loans totaling $ 780,000 to small businesses in Milwaukee on favorable terms ranging from $ 25,000 to $ 50,000. Nearly 80% of the businesses are in the Halyard Park, Harambee, and Brewers Hill neighborhoods affiliated with the ThriveOn Collaboration, and all of them are owned by colored people.
“Thriving neighborhoods depend on thriving small businesses to maintain jobs, accessible products and services, and to attract economic activity and dynamism,” said Kenneth Robertson, executive vice president, COO and CFO of the foundation. âThe Foundation recognizes that black and brown owned companies are already facing systemic barriers to accessing finance. So when we saw the disproportionate impact of the pandemic on small businesses in Milwaukee neighborhoods, we knew we had to think differently and act quickly. We are delighted that we have been able to mobilize these dollars as a form of relief and growth potential for the owners in our community. “
Help for sectors in acute need
The foundation launched the small business loan program in May to help strengthen the economic backbone of local neighborhoods, particularly in the sectors hardest hit by the pandemic. Of the people approved for funding, 28% work in retail, 24% in specialist retail, 18% in the catering or food industry, 18% in commercial real estate and 12% in health care. (A full list of recipients is shown at the end of this press release). Half of the stores were temporarily closed at the time the application was submitted.
The loans can be used for working capital and normal operating expenses, improvements to physical locations, or to refinance debt capital to support business stabilization and staff growth, for example. The recipient companies plan to increase employment above current levels by returning to pre-Covid staffing, new hires and reopenings.
As an added benefit, the ThriveOn Small Business Loan program combines ongoing technical assistance with its financing. Program participants will be able to access support in areas such as accounting, cash flow management tools, and related technologies that could further drive the long-term success of businesses.
Show personal touch
Maintaining a community-centric approach to the program included reaching out to business owners in the neighborhood personally to raise awareness of the program and answer questions. The team identified over 150 potentially eligible businesses in Halyard Park, Brewers Hill, and Harambee, then hosted community meetings and events, went door-to-door, and communicated with owners by phone and email. Ultimately, 33 applications were received, 17 of which completed their loans.
“The ThriveOn loan was exactly the boost I needed to move forward with Vogue Dreams,” said Tonda Thompson, owner of Vogue Dreams, a media and talent company in Milwaukee. âSince receiving the loan, I’ve updated my equipment and my bookings have doubled. I am now able to hire help and get jobs done. Thank you GMF! “
Economic inclusion through investment
The ThriveOn Small Business Loans are part of a five-year commitment of $ 30 million to promote fair economic opportunity through the Foundation’s Impact Investment Program. The foundation uses impact investing to promote racial justice and economic inclusion through programs, projects and companies that generate social and financial returns.
Past and current impact investments have supported business growth, job creation and commercial redevelopment while attracting additional outside investment. Including the Foundation’s $ 10 million investment in the ThriveOn King building – his future home – the program has so far provided over $ 12 million to community service.
“Our generous donors have played a key role in making ThriveOn Small Business Loans possible, donating over $ 500,000 to the effort,” said Ellen Gilligan, Foundation President and CEO. âIn total, the Foundation has raised more than $ 1.4 million for its impact investing program. This level of partnership shows our shared values ââand our shared interest in rethinking philanthropy to make Milwaukee thrive for all. “
Below are the recipients of the ThriveOn Small Business Loan:
Via the Greater Milwaukee Foundation
The Greater Milwaukee Foundation is Wisconsin’s largest community foundation and was among the first in the world. For more than a century, the foundation has been at the heart of the civic community, helping donors achieve the greatest philanthropic impact, promoting the work of change makers in the neighborhoods, and bringing people and organizations together to help our region thrive. Racial Justice is the foundation’s north star guiding its investments and strategies for social and economic change.
Leveraging generations of community knowledge, cross-industry partnerships, and more than $ 1 billion in financial assets, the foundation is committed to rethinking philanthropy, re-centering communities, and reshaping systems to make our region a Milwaukee for all to transform.