Supporters of the Central Providence Community Loan Fund gathered in the parking lot of Olneyville New York System on June 14 to celebrate its launch.

A new $500,000 revolving community loan fund launches, seeking to jump start new businesses in Central Providence

By Richard Asinof

PROVIDENCE – On a broiling hot Tuesday afternoon, June 14, a small crowd gathered in the parking lot outside the Olneyville New York System restaurant on Plain Street in Olneyville to celebrate the launch of a new revolving $500,000 community loan fund.

The target borrowers are to be small businesses, entrepreneurs and nonprofits, located in the 02909 or 02908 ZIP codes, who have 25 or fewer employees. The goal is to provide money at a rate of 2 percent, in neighborhoods where the difficulty in gaining access to capital has always been a major barrier, particularly if you are a woman or a person of color.

Proving your credit worthiness to Main Street banking institutions is an urban reality, not an urban myth.

How difficult is it secure access to capital? As difficult, it seems, as getting news coverage to report on the loan fund’s launch. There were no TV cameras or radio microphones or even newspaper reporters to cover the launch – only ConvergenceRI. Worse, there have yet to be any follow-up stories. Why is that?

A 10-minute elevator pitch
Here, then, is a blow-by-blow of what occurred in the parking lot, in what was a 10-minute elevator pitch for the community-based loan fund, with background music provided by a steady hum of vehicular traffic.

The introduction: “I am Jennifer Hawkins, the executive director of One Neighborhood Builders,” Hawkins began, speaking at the podium with a mobile microphone rig. “One Neighborhood Builders is working in partnership with the Providence Revolving Loan Fund to launch this.”