February 04, 2014
Chamber's MBA launches GrowthBridge Fund, first in country
The Cincinnati USA Regional Chamber's Minority Business Accelerator (MBA) today made history by announcing the launch of the first phase of funding for the L. Ross Love GrowthBridge Fund. The MBA is the Chamber's hallmark economic-development initiative focused on growing sizeable minority firms.
The fund will provide flexible debt capital to finance growth projects of established, highly-competitive, African-American and Hispanic-owned firms in the region. The average loan size will be $175,000. It is anticipated that three to four loans will be made per year. Once they are, they will be the first of their kind in the country.
Since being announced in June 2013, the Fund has raised more than $1.7M from 28 investors representing both corporations and private commitments. Today's launch will allow the MBA to begin accepting applications from established, highly-competitive regional businesses to receive flexible debt capital. Fundraising will continue until July 31 to secure a goal of at least $2M.
In addition to a new record of spending by local corporations and community organizations last year, average revenue of MBA portfolio firms reached $29 million and the total number of firm employees increased to 3,360. Since its inception in 2003, the MBA has created 1,800 jobs in Cincinnati. The success of the Chamber's Minority Business Accelerator has served as a catalyst across the country including in Charlotte, Cleveland, Lexington, Dayton and Greenville, where MBAs have since been launched.
Among the 28 investors are the Greater Cincinnati Foundation, which made a $500,000 investment, and the Cincinnati USA Regional Chamber, which made a $150,000 investment. For a complete list of institutional investors, details on how to apply for a loan, and additional information on the GrowthBridge Fund, visit www.growthbridgefund.com
The fund will be managed by the MBA in concert with Legacy Investment Funds. An independent loan committee will review and approve all proposed loans.
"It's extremely gratifying to see such a deep level of commitment from our Fund investors, companies and individuals; through them, we will not only advance MBE's, but our region." said Crystal German, vice president of the MBA and economic inclusion at the Cincinnati USA Regional Chamber. "Cincinnati has come far in many areas of diversity and inclusion, but near the top has to be the advances we continue to make in minority economic development," she added.
The fund was named in memory of media owner L. Ross Love. The entrepreneur, philanthropist, former Procter & Gamble executive and founder of Blue Chip Broadcasting was dedicated to minority entrepreneurship. During his career, Love created Blue Chip Enterprises, a company that helped African Americans start their own businesses.
"Ross was extremely passionate about two things; local minority business growth and the well-being of the city of Cincinnati. This fund will ensure that both will continue to thrive and do so in his name," said his brother, Steve Love. "It's not often that a person's legacy can make such an impact as much as this fund is going to do," he added.
Carl Satterwhite, President and Majority Owner of RCF Group, a West-Chester based workplace solutions business, entered the MBA as a portfolio company in 2004. "The MBA model proves that when minority-owned businesses grow, jobs are created and our community and economy are strengthened," said Satterwhite. "There's a reason why several other cities have specifically used our MBA as a blueprint, they excel at what they do, and the Fund is a strong affirmation of that," he added.
Satterwhite now serves the Chamber as a member of the Board, and as a member of the Leadership Council of the MBA. RCF Group, is also an investor in the Fund.