Valley Partners Puts Focus on Equitable Access

YOUNGSTOWN, Ohio – Valley Partners, which offers specialized loan solutions to support area businesses, focused in 2023 on removing barriers to increase equitable access to capital for underserved populations.

The organization closed 143 loans and disbursed eight grants in 2023, beating the previous high of 75 loans achieved in 2022.

A total of $14.75 million was disbursed in loans, which helped to complete projects that injected $36.6 million into the local economy, according to Teresa Miller, Valley Partners executive director.

Valley Partners and its Business Resource Center became a state-certified Tier 1 Minority Business Assistance Center in 2023. Its advisers help new or existing businesses with business plans, financial projections, putting together a financial request application and other items to start or run a business. The center hosts lunch and learn classes for entrepreneurs on topics such as creating a business plan, financial planning and cash flow analysis and marketing. 

“With emphasis on creating equitable access to capital, our Business Resource Center makes great efforts to reach underserved segments such as female and minority-owned businesses and those located in QCT areas [census tracts that have high unemployment and economic distress],” Miller says. 

The center served 223 clients in 2023. Of those clients, 55% were female and 67% were minorities. The clients were able to secure more than $1.8 million in capital as a result of the assistance they received, Miller says.

“Our team understands the importance of equal opportunities for all. With our expertise, we create personalized mentoring and flexible lending solutions that break through income disparities and credit challenges,” Miller says.

Looking ahead, “Valley Partners is excited to continue to provide lending solutions for small businesses and help boost the regional economy in 2024,” she adds.

Valley Partners was created in 1978 as a nonprofit organization dedicated to growing the regional economy.

The agency is a certified community development financial institution as well as a certified development corporation approved by the U.S. Small Business Administration to administer its loan programs.

Published by The Business Journal, Youngstown, Ohio.