Cincinnati’s Minority Business Accelerator (MBA) in conjunction with the African American CEO Roundtable, has raised $2 million to help the region’s minority businesses. Established in 2013, the L. Ross Love GrowthBridge Fund provides flexible debt capital to finance growth projects of established, highly-competitive, African American and Hispanic-owned local firms.
Funds will be disbursed as subordinate debt with an average loan size of $175,000. Funding comes from investors representing more than 30 corporations and private commitments throughout Cincinnati USA. The MBA expects its investors, which include Kroger and Toyota, to receive a return on investments of at least 3%.
The Cincinnati USA Regional Chamber runs the MBA, which is considered a nationwide model in minority economic development. The GrowthBridge fund is names in honor of the late Luther “Ross” Love, Jr., a well-respected local business leader and entrepreneur. He was the first African American vice president at Procter & Gamble, which is headquartered in Cincinnati.
“Since his passing just four years ago, Ross would now be stunned in the changes that have occurred in this region, and in the success of the minority business accelerator that he helped found,” Steve Love, brother of L. Ross Love, said during a press announcement. “It would have my brother extremely pleased if he were here today, not to mention having such a unique and vital fund to grow minority business named that is named after him. here is more work to be done, and more growth needed among the region’s minority firms,” Love told a group of about 40 business and community leaders in attendance.
“What our community has been able to do in the last 18 months is nothing short of remarkable, and is a testament not only to the level of support for minority businesses in our region but also to the enduring legacy of Ross,” added Crystal German, vice president of economic inclusion for the Chamber.
To date, four companies have been granted loans from the GrowthBridge Fund: Abel Building Systems, Inc., OCG Telecom, COG LLC; consumer packaging company; and, K-Cor, a specialty subcontractor located in Sharonville, led by former Cincinnati Bengal Kevin Walker, who was the first regional business to obtain a loan from the Fund.
Growth capital is critical for minority firms to mature and do business with major corporations. “The GrowthBridge Fund Loan will provide the working capital required to double our company sales over the next year. We have developed an extensive customer base selling to the federal, state and local government sector. We can now go after larger contracts from our existing customers, says Osford Ogis, President, OCG Telecom. “We have worked with the Minority Business Accelerator program since November of 2013 on all aspects of our business, including in-person introductions to potential new customers.”
“The MBA is breaking barriers and roadblocks minority companies far too often face. They provide consulting, support, and opportunity for large companies in the region to work with qualified companies that happen to be minority owned,” says Eric Ruffin, President, Abel Building Systems, Inc.
For more information about the L. Ross Love GrowthBridge Fund, go http://www.growthbridgefund.com.