A custodial company, a clothing line, and a recycled-furniture firm are among the first women- and minority-owned businesses to receive loans from a newly-launched program

Photo credit: Downtown Brooklyn

The Brooklyn Chamber of Commerce just granted $15,000 in loans to five small businesses – all owned by minorities, women or immigrants, reports Crain’s New York. The funds were made available by Brooklyn Alliance, the nonprofit arm of the chamber, which received a $125,000 grant from the U.S. Treasury Department with the help of Representative Nydia Velazquez, among others.

“These business owners are the bedrock of our borough and we need to help them maintain a sustainable foothold here in Brooklyn and beyond,” said Brooklyn Chamber of Commerce President and CEO Andrew Hoan. “When they grow, we grow—as they will continue to hire Brooklyn.”

The loans are benefitting a diverse group of small companies all across Brooklyn. The chamber chose each business based on background, neighborhood profile and credit history.

And the small businesses will certainly put the loans to good use. Renford Hines, a Jamaican immigrant who launched his Flatbush fashion company First World Art in 1991, will use the loan to help acquire fabric for the clothing line and renovate the website to create an online business portal.

“Financing is the lifeblood of any small business. And that oftentimes makes the difference between success and failure,” Hines said. “So anytime a small business owner such as myself can get access to capital, it’s always beneficial.”

Another recipient is Strictly Spotless, a Crown Heights custodial company founded by Rodney Elie. He intends to allocate the new funds to his marketing plan, with the goal to expand his services beyond Brooklyn.

“I see myself [going] into all five boroughs,” said Elie. “If I can advertise the business, I can grow.”

Brooklyn Alliance Capital also lent $5,000 to home improvement firm ALG Painting, beauty equipment provider MyAdorned and REDU NYC, a company that converts commercial waste into furniture and other products.

This first round of loans marks just the beginning of a new program the chamber launched; the organization plans to continue focusing on accumulating funds, with the goal to offer loans of up to $250,000.

“You can expect some of our lendees to become some of the fastest-growing, most successful businesses in the borough,” said Hoan.

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Andrea Leonhardt

“Made in Germany,” Andrea Leonhardt is the managing editor for BK Reader. Andrea holds a bachelor’s degree in political science, with minors in American studies and education, and a master’s...

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