The city of Indianapolis has announced $1 million in initial funding for what will become the first Black-led community development financial institution loan fund in the Indy region. Equity1821 says it will address disparities in the small business ecosystem when it comes to funding and wrap-around services for Black-owned businesses.
The funding was included in Indianapolis Mayor Joe Hogsett’s spending plan for federal American Rescue Plan Act dollars. It was unanimously approved by the City-County Council last month.
“Without question, an equitable community is one in which businesses owned by people of color have equal access to the capital necessary for a business to grow and thrive,” Council President Vop Osili said in a news release. “The city’s $1 million investment in a Black-led CDFI loan fund, approved by the council, is a very important step in the ongoing process to build a more equitable small business community in Indianapolis.”
Equity1821 has formed a founding board of directors comprised of civic and business leaders in Indy, including:
- Tony Mason, President of the Indianapolis Urban League
- Tanya McKinzie, President of Indiana Black Expo
- Willis Bright, Chairman of the African American Coalition of Indianapolis,
- Phil Johnson, Senior Vice President, Treasurer and Head of Corporate Transactions for Eli Lilly and Co.
- Nick Bontrager, Twenty-five years of financial services and twenty-three years of banking experience
- Greg Hicks, Chief Financial Officer of the Indy Black Chamber of Commerce
- Robert Shegog, President of the Indianapolis Recorder Charities
- Latoya Botteron, CFO and Chief Operating Officer of the Central Indiana Corporate Partnership
- Jeff Bennett, Deputy Mayor for Community Economic Development for City of Indianapolis
The organization says it still needs to complete the federal designation process to operate as an official CDFI. The next steps for Equity1821 will be to conduct a national search for a chief executive officer and a CDFI consultant, as well as continued engagement of additional funders.
Once it receives the official designation, the organization will become one of only 86 Black-led CDFIs in the country. Equity1821 says its name is in reference to what is believed to be the first Black-owned business established in Indianapolis by David Mallory in 1821.