Innovative Financing Supports XBE Business Growth While Addressing Community Needs - Ali Fix It Construction LLC

Posted on February 16, 2023

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AFI 2023

Syracuse’s historic architecture is among its unique assets, but it often poses one of the community’s greatest public health risks. Without proper abatement, the presence of lead in the city housing and buildings can cause irreparable harm to the long-term health of those exposed to it, and disproportionately impacts low-income communities and communities of color. In response to this, the city of Syracuse passed a new lead ordinance in 2020, accelerating the need for lead testing and remediation. CenterState CEO is working to ensure that firms contracted to do the testing and remediation reflect the demographics of the impacted communities.

With support from the Central New York Community Foundation, CenterState CEO’s Up Start small business development program is building the capacity of city-based, minority-owned contractors to compete for lead testing and remediation projects. This partnership helps the city to mitigate this public health and environmental challenge while creating opportunities for contracting businesses owned by Syracuse residents of color, enabling them to increase earnings, build wealth and hire from the community. Three companies are receiving technical assistance and financial resources that will position them to take on most of the impending testing and mitigation work in the city’s footprint, including Ali Fix It Construction LLC (AFI).

AFI is a general contracting company founded in April 2021. The firm, owned by Durin Leckie, specializes in lead paint remediation and remodeling services for residential and commercial customers. Leckie is enrolled in the Up Start program and completed several technical assistance engagements to solidify his operations and capacity to take on additional projects. He has also applied for MBE status with the state of New York and the city of Syracuse, and expects those certifications to be in place during the second quarter of 2023.

Leckie has developed a strong relationship with key clients, including the city of Syracuse and Onondaga County lead programs, and continues to seek growth opportunities through private residential and commercial projects – but faced a need for growth capital to advance his business goals.

In early 2023, AFI was awarded one of the first Growth + Equity Fund loans through the CenterState CEO Foundation. The Growth + Equity Fund was developed by CenterState CEO in response to the need for more program options to address a spectrum of market inefficiencies and inequities, to finance innovators, entrepreneurs, and business owners who have traditionally struggled to access the funding they need to achieve their venture goals.

The Growth + Equity Fund loan provides critical working capital that will be directed toward expanding staff, securing a work vehicle, and purchasing other equipment to maximize AFI’s market potential. In addition to the Growth + Equity Fund, Leckie has also received support in the form of a business line of credit from KeyBank.

The Growth + Equity Fund loan pool is made possible in part through the support of the Central New York Community Foundation, in their efforts to eradicate a critical public health crisis facing our community. The Community Foundation’s support is specifically aimed at increasing the capacity of XBE (minority-, woman-, veteran- and/or disabled-owned businesses) lead remediation contractors so that the business community can respond to the increased market demand in a way that also creates equitable opportunities for historically marginalized entrepreneurs.

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