Wells Fargo has selected New Jersey Community Capital (NJCC) who is working in partnership with the African American Chamber of Commerce of New Jersey (AACCNJ) ($2.5 million) , the Regional Business Assistance Corporation (RBAC) ($1 million) and Cooperative Business Assistance Corporation (CBAC) ($500,000) to receive grants from its Open for Business Fund (OFB), a nationwide small business recovery effort. The $4 million in new funding to these organizations will help underserved small businesses stay open, preserve jobs through short- and long-term COVID-19 resiliency efforts. The grants were announced yesterday at a press conference in Trenton, NJ attended by City of Trenton Mayor W. Reed Gusciora, County Executive Brian Hughes and County Commissioner Samuel Frisby.
“Wells Fargo’s Open for Business Fund is another avenue of support and enlists the expertise of CDFIs to urgently help diverse entrepreneurs recover and preserve the jobs they provide in their communities,” said Wanda Saez, senior Vice President of Social Impact and Sustainability. “The funding will provide much needed access to capital with increased equity in resources and technical assistance for local businesses who are the backbone of our local economies and neighborhoods.”
The Open for Business Fund is as an approximately $420 million small business recovery effort across the U.S. to help entrepreneurs recover and rebuild. The initiative focuses on increasing access to capital, technical expertise, and long-term resiliency programs especially for racially and ethnically diverse small business owners who have been hard hit by COVID-19. Through April, the fund is already projected to reach 26,000 small businesses helping entrepreneurs keep roughly 75,000 jobs.
“President Obama said, ‘no one is successful alone.’ Wells Fargo has been an integral part of the success of the AACCNJ since our inception. Today’s investment will strengthen our ability to advance and sustain our mission while also enabling us to impact small businesses through technical supportive services and needed capital”, said John E. Harmon, Sr., IOM, Founder, President & CEO, AACCNJ.
NJCC has partnered with the AACCNJ to increase access to capital and financial relief for Black and minority-owned small businesses in New Jersey through the Equitable Small Business Initiative. The program provides both immediate capital and technical assistance, including working capital loans, capacity building and administrative support, to small businesses most affected by the COVID-19 pandemic as well as long-term financial resources to sustain and grow these vital catalysts of local economies.
“We are proud to continue our long-standing partnership with Wells Fargo to enhance the lending ecosystem for diverse-owned small businesses across New Jersey,” said Wayne Meyer, President of NJCC. “The pandemic continues to highlight the historical challenges Black and Latinx entrepreneurs and small business owners face when trying to access equitable financing and business supports. The Equitable Small Business Initiative seeks to reverse this trend, grow vibrant local businesses, and generate wealth for their owners and communities.”
“Small Businesses are the most important component of our ability to recover and grow our economy, in a post COVID world,” said William Pazmino, Executive Director of RBAC. “RBAC understands that growth happens when people work together, we are incredibly fortunate to receive this generous donation from Wells Fargo which will allow us to provide financing to our small businesses recovery and rebuilding efforts.”
He continued, “This partnership with Wells Fargo will drive our efforts to support local entrepreneurs and help our communities bounce back from the pandemic.”
RBAC, will utilize the OFB grant to focus on serving small businesses throughout the state of New Jersey with a special focus on LMI income communities. The funds will serve as lending capital for COVID-19 relief with an average loan size of $25,000 to help diverse business owners cover expenses associated with hardships caused by the pandemic.
“This partnership with Wells Fargo allows us to fill a lending gap that many traditional financial institutions are unable to fill,” said Harry Stone, President and CEO of CBAC. “We are grateful to help support small business in these challenging times and help fledgling businesses to grow and thrive.”
The funding to CBAC, which was announced earlier this year, will help underserved small businesses in South Jersey stay open, preserve jobs and expand micro lending activities and programming for diverse business owners.