Supporting Local Businesses Strengthens Our Communities

Small businesses across the country are feeling the impact of the slowed economy. Local economies are struggling with unemployment and unstable housing markets creating a very difficult environment for small business to flourish. This is bit of chicken and the egg problem because we desperately need small business to grow to create jobs, but without healthy economies how do small businesses grow?

One thing is certain; we can't sit idle waiting for the economy to improve. Over the last few years, we've witnessed time and time again the positive impact that results from partnerships between businesses and nonprofits. At Bank of America, we're committed to this vision, and we've seen firsthand the benefits philanthropy, volunteerism, and nonprofit partnerships have on helping communities and small businesses succeed.

A great example of this kind of partnership at work is the Inner City Capital Connection (ICCC) program. Fueled by a partnership between Bank of America and the Initiative for a Competitive Inner City (ICIC), ICCC brings together entrepreneurs and capital providers to help inner city companies raise money and create jobs. Access to capital is a barrier to growth for many small businesses, especially businesses located in the inner city, in fact, ICIC research shows that 71% of inner city businesses lack the capital they need to compete in their industries. ICCC is the only program in the country that educates inner city companies about equity and other sources of capital, and subsequently matches them with investors to strengthen their businesses and stimulate job growth.

Through ICCC, the founders of Coalesence, LLC, a nutritional food seasonings producer based in Columbus, Ohio, were connected to local investors and mentored by Bank of America volunteers about equity financing and raising capital. Our volunteers had expertise as small business bankers to truly help Coalescence access capital. With this training and mentoring, Coalesence was able to raise nearly $5 million in a struggling economic environment to grow their business.

But ICCC is just one example of connecting local business leaders with the tools and knowledge their businesses need to flourish and create positive outcomes in their communities. Every day, Bank of America is impacting companies across the nation. In Charlotte, N.C., we're supporting one of the city's major manufacturers, RSC Chemical Solutions, with $25 million line of credit to help the company expand, increase its marketing capabilities, modernize its information systems, and employ 130 workers in the community. In Phoenix, A.Z., Bank of America helped Grand Canyon University finance its rapidly expanding campus to provide a low-cost, high-quality education for 7,000 students. In Hawthorne, C.A., Bank of America aided 9to5 Seating, a manufacturer of office furnishings, finance a new warehouse that hired 50 new employees in the local community.

Across the country, these types of partnerships and programs are creating real and lasting impact. They're growing jobs, healing communities, and moving our national economy forward.