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(INDIANAPOLIS) – Business Ownership Initiative (BOI), the anchor program of the Indy Chamber’s Entrepreneur Services division, was recently certified by the U.S. Department of the Treasury as a Community Development Financial Institution (CDFI), and alongside this new status, was granted $125,000 in CDFI Program Technical Assistance Awards to serve low-income and underserved communities lacking adequate access to financial resources. Additionally, the U.S. Small Business Administration (SBA) recently awarded BOI $180,000 through its Program for Investment in Micro-Entrepreneurs (PRIME) to continue funding BOI’s Re-Entry Entrepreneurship Development Initiative (REDi) for current and formerly incarcerated individuals to explore small business ownership as a means of self-sufficiency.

BOI’s new status as a CDFI not only unlocks more funding sources for the organization, but raises the ceiling on the size of grants BOI can receive, putting more resources into the small business community of the Indianapolis region.

“Historically, 55-60% of BOI clients are minority-owned businesses or economically disadvantaged,” notes Ian Nicolini, Vice President of Indianapolis Economic Development for the Indy Chamber and leader of Develop Indy, the economic development arm of the City of Indianapolis. “BOI has been operating like a CDFI for many years, but attaining this certification is an important step in scaling our lending capabilities to meet the needs of a growing and diverse entrepreneurial ecosystem. Everyone deserves the opportunity to succeed, and today’s announcement will expand our community’s momentum toward inclusive economic growth.”

In June 2019, the Indy Chamber hired Rick Proctor to lead BOI, leveraging his extensive resume in financial services and community economic development to ramp up the organization’s lending activities and to help disadvantaged populations overcome economic hurdles.

One such hurdle is incarceration. Since its inception three years ago, BOI’s REDi program has logged nearly 10,000 hours of training with currently- or formerly-incarcerated individuals to start their own businesses or make themselves more attractive to local companies looking for employees with soft skills and start-up savvy.

“BOI has long been a critical driver of business and economic development for those without a traditional path to entrepreneurial success,” noted Indianapolis City-County Council President Vop Osili. “In very real terms, BOI has taken the lead in leveling the business development playing field for women- and minority-owned businesses and for formerly incarcerated individuals. The CDFI certification recognizes not just the quality of BOI’s past work, but its potential to help Indianapolis create a more inclusive economy going forward.”

BOI and its umbrella of programs, including the Central Indiana Women’s Business Center and the Hispanic Business Council, lean on partnerships from public, private, and philanthropic organizations to provide over 10,000 hours of business coaching and over $400,000 in lending capital across the Indianapolis region each year. The U.S. Small Business Administration has played an integral role in this important work.

“We are excited that BOI has received an SBA PRIME grant and look forward to partnering with them as they continue to create innovative programming and initiatives like REDi which helps formerly incarcerated citizens become entrepreneurs in the Indy region economically giving back to their communities and achieving the American dream,” mentions Stacey Poynter, Indiana District Director for the U.S. Small Business Administration.

Entrepreneurs or small business owners interested in free one-on-one business coaching or loan capital up to $50,000 can find more information on indychamber.com/entrepreneurship or by calling 317-464-2258.

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