Thanks to a $1.1 million grant, black owned businesses across the state can now apply for a loan through a program administered by the Florida A&M University Federal Credit Union. It’s part of a partnership with the Florida Department of Economic Opportunity.
“Good morning, ladies and gentleman,” said Leon County Commissioner Bill Proctor to a group of people gathered in the building of the Florida A&M University Federal Credit Union.
“Good morning,” they replied.
“Aw, come on, ladies and gentleman, you can do better than that,” Proctor responded. “We are absolutely excited and pleased that you are here this morning for a rather historic gathering.”
On Tuesday, Proctor acted as sort of a host during a news conference about the Florida Department of Economic Opportunity’s “Black Business Loan Program.”
If an eligible black business owner—anywhere in the state—wants to apply for a loan through that program, they now have that opportunity.
Previously, DEO had partnered with a corporation that serviced only four Central Florida counties, where people could apply for the program.
And, DEO’s Executive Director Cissy Proctor says there’s now a statewide option.
“And, I’m pleased to stand up here with so many folks in our community, with our local leaders to congratulate our new partner, FAMU Federal Credit Union, on being the first credit union to become the first statewide administrator for the Black Business Loan Program,” she said, at the time. “This is great news for FAMU Federal Credit Union and business owners all across our state.”
Ernest Allen is the President and CEO of the FAMU Federal Credit Union, which now has the authority to administer the loan. He says there are some criteria.
“It has to be 51 percent owned by an African American,” he said. “That’s the first criteria. It also has to be a business registered with the state of Florida. That business has to operate within the state of Florida is the second criteria. Other than that, there is an application process that we have out there. The application process is online on our website.”
Allen says he’s also excited for the much bigger impact it will have on communities.
“When businesses are strong in the community, that helps everything in the community: education, employment, families, and I’ll go as far as to say lowering crime rates, at the same time,” he added.
Al Latimer is the Director of the Office of Economic Vitality for the Tallahassee/Leon County area, which will be working with FAMU’s Credit Union to promote the program.
“We particularly like the part of the program that provides for alternative lending solutions for businesses in our area,” he stated. “There is nothing like being a business or owners that is working hard every day, trying to maintain or trying to move your business to the next level, and not being able to have access to financial tools that will allow you to achieve your goals.”
Rep. Ramon Alexander (D-Tallahassee) helped get the $1.1 million appropriated into last year’s budget for the FAMU Credit Union to become a statewide loan administrator.
He calls it an exciting program, that will have a huge impact on the area.
“Well, there’s some serious entrepreneurs out there that just need additional resources to build capacity, so they can duplicate or scale up their services, and sustain the great operations they have,” said Alexander. “You look at our communities, generational cycles of poverty, you look at communities that are access-limited, income constrained. When you have the ability to invest into your community, to create jobs, and create opportunities, that’s significant. And, those are the type of programs—through the state, through other private programs, and other private partners—that really make a huge difference.”
For more news updates, follow Sascha Cordner on Twitter: @SaschaCordner.