Investment Fund Launched to Spark Minority Entrepreneurship
After a successful pilot program, the Erie County Gaming Revenue Authority and Bridgeway Capital unveiled a $5 million investment fund to spark minority entrepreneurship in Erie County.
Surrounded by local and state officials, they launched the Erie Inclusive Fund Monday at Learning Ladder Early Childhood Education Center.
It's a growing, minority-owned business started by Kenya and Sean Johnson in the former Forward Hall building on Peach Street.
Learning Ladder, which benefited from a loan, is the kind of business ECGRA and Bridgeway hope to grow.
They are investing half of the loan fund in minority-owned businesses over the next three years.
Each is putting up another $300,000 for business coaching.
"They believe in what we're doing," said Sean Johnson. "We're doing what we say we're going to do. It's the relationship working itself out."
"They're in the neighborhoods, employing people locally, and they're fixing up buildings like the historic one we're in now," said Perry Wood, executive director of ECGRA. "They're making those investments, and they're employing people. It's going to be 4-5j obs here and there, and that's how we're growing the economy with small business."
Since opening an Erie office in 2012, Bridgeway has made $8.4 million in loans to people and places unable to access mainstream funding sources. With ECGRA's support, they will be able to provide more.