Robert Vincent took a chance when he opened Beez Appliances on Parade Street.

"I did not take any loans." said Vincent. "I started with a few hundred dollars, and I just kept reinvesting in myself."

25 years late, his business is thriving.

"It is a big community here," said Vincent. "They just want the opportunity so that they have something to give back to the community."
Vincent and other minority-owned business owners are now eligible for financial help.

Diverse Erie has launched a $1.8 million Small Business Fund.

Minority-owned businesses can apply for loans ranging from $25,000 up to $250,000.

"We really want to cast a new vision and that vision is to make sure all persons of color feel welcome and included in Erie County," said Diverse Erie Chief Administrative Officer Gary Lee.

Lee says the revolving loan fund will help current businesses grow while attracting new businesses to the city.

"One of the things the pandemic has shown us by the basic numbers is that persons of color have really suffered in a negative way greatly," said Lee. "This is a step in this particular Small Business Fund to help build better infrastructure to help these businesses come back."

Vincent says the financial assistance will go a long way.

"This is a great opportunity for a lot of small businesses who have the ideas, who have the fortitude, and work ethic but just don't have the capital," said Vincent. "This is a great opportunity for them."

More information on the Small Business Fund is available here.