Growth + Equity Fund Helps Fill Gaps In Capital Markets

Posted on May 24, 2023

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CenterState CEO Growth + Equity Fund participants and supporters recently came together at the Salt City Market to talk about the program's impact and future. A panel of business owners who have participated in CenterState CEO programs discussed their challenges and accomplishments in accessing capital.


The Growth + Equity Fund (G+E Fund) was developed by CenterState CEO to address a spectrum of market inefficiencies and inequities by helping finance innovators, entrepreneurs and business owners who have traditionally struggled to access the funding needed to achieve their goals. Despite financing options that exist through banks and community development financial institutions, various structural and regulatory barriers still prevent many business owners and property developers from accessing capital. Historically, this creates a barrier to growth for high-tech firms and other key industries, as well as real estate investments in distressed commercial corridors.  


It can also be challenging for small businesses to obtain the necessary capital for their ventures. This is particularly difficult for entrepreneurs from historically marginalized communities, such as minorities, women, veterans, New Americans and low/moderate income owners. The G+E Fund’s pilot phase helped four owners from these communities secure $185,000 in financing. The G+E Fund team also helped these and other business owners access an additional $190,000 through traditional lending institutions.  


The G+E Fund is made possible thanks to a number of founding supporters. Among them, JPMorgan Chase’s Market Executive for Commercial Banking John Huhtala attended the recent panel discussion featuring small business owners who have benefited from the G+E Fund.   


“Creating a small business ecosystem where diverse founders and entrepreneurs have access to capital is vital to fueling and sustaining an inclusive local economy,” Huhtala said. “Hearing from local entrepreneurs who have leveraged funding through the Growth + Equity Fund was inspirational, and it illustrates the impact this support is having in Central New York.” 


Panelist Shawni Davis (Luminary Electrical) received a loan from the G+E Fund. Tanika Jones (It Takes A Village Family Daycare) received a grant from the fund and a loan through a community development finance corporation, through which she received pre-loan counseling and strategy development. The third panelist, Sleyrow “Sley” Mason (SOULoutions), secured funding through a traditional lender with the help of the G+E Fund team.  


To be eligible, G+E Fund participants must be actively engaging in business development programs operated by CenterState CEO and/or its nonprofit partners. They are then able to apply for financing from the fund in the form of loans, investments, and/or mini- “ignition” grants.  


The fund employs strategies designed to “de-risk” participant businesses, including intensive vetting, business support services, and milestones business owners must achieve to access the fund’s capital. The G+E Fund team also provides participants with post-financing support to maximize impact. Entrepreneurs are referred to other financial institutions to access more traditional financing whenever possible.  


“Being able to hear several small business owners’ stories of struggle turning into success all because of this fund is really something,” said John Peter, small business owner and G+E Fund donor. “I'm very happy to be able to contribute to fellow entrepreneurs and look forward to doing much more of it in the future.” 


 The goal is to raise an additional $1 million so more small business owners can access the funds necessary to build strong ventures in Central New York. For more information about how you can support the G+E Fund, contact Kelly Fumarola or visit the CenterState CEO Foundation online.  


Growth + Equity Fund Contributors:

Allyn Family Foundation | AmeriCU | Armory Square Ventures | Bank of America | Build from Within Alliance| Central New York Community Foundation| John Peter, Peter’s Discount Liquor | JPMorgan Chase Foundation| KeyBank | M&T Bank | Senator Gillibrand| State Assemblyman Stirpe

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