augusta free press news

Banking on Diversity: Minority business fund launched by banks in Virginia, West Virginia

Banking on DiversityFirst Bank announced today the launch of the Banking on Diversity initiative, a minority business funding program to improve and develop local communities.

The Banking on Diversity program was created through a partnership of four community banks in the regions including suburban Northern Virginia, Northern Shenandoah Valley, the Eastern Panhandle of West Virginia, and Washington County, Md.

In addition to First Bank, sponsoring banks include Bank of Clarke County, BCT – The Community’s Bank, and The Fauquier Bank.

The banks have collectively committed up to $1 million in interest-free loans to aid both startup and existing minority-owned small businesses within the sponsoring community banks’ markets. There are two loan programs: one for start-ups and one for existing businesses.

The program is expected to include educational seminars to support the evolution of the business.

Qualified businesses may receive only one loan.

Program guidelines are as follows:

  • Only available to for-profit businesses
  • Must have MBE Certification (Minority Business Enterprise)
  • Annual revenues cannot exceed $1MM (business) or $500k (farms)
  • Business must be located in counties of Clarke, Fauquier, Frederick, Loudoun, Prince William, Shenandoah, Warren and the City of Winchester in Virginia; the counties of Berkeley and Jefferson in West Virginia; or Washington County, Md.
  • Annual individual loan amounts up to $50,000 (existing business) or $10,000 (new business)
  • New business must have been in existence for at least 3 months.
  • Existing business must have been in existence for more than two years

To qualify as a minority-owned business, the business must be 51 percent owned and operated by one or more minority individuals who are United States citizens or legal resident aliens – or 51 percent equity ownership in a corporation, partnership, or LLC or other entity and is owned by one or more minority individuals who are United States citizens or legal resident aliens, and both the management and daily business operations are controlled by one or more minority individuals.

The Banking on Diversity program is open for application. Those interested may apply by visiting a bank partner’s website or a local branch of their choosing.

Though not required, it is encouraged for applicants to apply with a partner bank in their geographic region.

The websites of the banks are as follows:

augusta free press
augusta free press