Valley Partners Receives $1M Grant for Loan Fund

YOUNGSTOWN, Ohio – Valley Partners will establish a $2 million revolving loan fund to support small business creation and expansion in Mahoning and Trumbull counties.

The Edge II loan fund will use a $1 million grant announced Wednesday by the U.S. Department of Commerce’s Economic Development Administration matched with $1 million in local funds, the department said in a news release. The fund will provide gap financing to help small, local businesses grow and create new economic opportunities.

The money will recapitalize an earlier version of the fund that was created in 2019 using a similar EDA award, Teresa Miller, Valley Partners executive director, said Thursday.

“During the pandemic we were fortunate to generate revenue by assisting small businesses with their Payroll Protection Program loans,” Miller said. “We wanted to leverage that revenue as best we could to continue to achieve our mission and support small businesses here in the Valley.”

The federal funds come from EDA’s Assistance to Coal Communities initiative, which awards funds on a competitive basis to help communities affected by the declining use of coal. It is expected to help create or retain more than 40 jobs and generate $4.4 million in private investment.

“This EDA grant will provide needed capital to small businesses and entrepreneurs in Northeast Ohio, creating jobs and a stronger, more robust regional economy,” U.S. Secretary of Commerce Gina Raimondo said in the news release announcing the grant.

“This revolving loan fund will provide the capital that small businesses and entrepreneurs in Northeast Ohio need to grow and thrive,” Alejandra Y. Castillo, assistance commerce secretary, said in the release.

“We are extremely grateful to our partners at the EDA for believing in Valley Partners once again to fulfill their investment priorities of achieving equitable access to capital and continuing on the path of recovery and resilience for our economy,” Miller said. “We will utilize these loan funds to create economic opportunities for new and existing small businesses to continue to create and retain jobs across the Valley.”

Valley Partners was certified in recent years as a Community Development Financial Institution, allowing it to begin to offer free, in-house technical assistance, Miller said. It built a business resource center and hired a manager, and now offers monthly classes on business plans, projections, marketing and other topics.

“We are working hard to assist those within underserved populations and underserved communities to achieve their dreams of being small business owners,” she said.

“Ohio workers can compete with anyone in the world, and this investment will help ensure the community of Mahoning Valley and its residents have the resources they need to remain competitive,” U.S. Sen. Sherrod Brown, D-Ohio, said in the release. “I’m happy to see EDA recognize the strength of Ohio workers and will continue to push for investments in Ohio that grow our state’s economy.”

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