Northeastern President Joseph E. Aoun and Boston Mayor Martin J. Walsh joined community partners on Tuesday morning to unveil the region’s first university-supported loan program for small businesses owned by women and minorities.
The Impact Lending program will enable local entrepreneurs to secure loans, at below-market interest rates, to acquire crucial resources to expand their small businesses. At a press conference held at the Bolling Building in Roxbury, speakers hailed the initiative as a critical investment in local innovation and praised Northeastern’s ties with the city and local community.
“Small businesses create jobs. They hire local people. They’re the engine to our economy,” said Walsh, who called Northeastern “a great leader in our university system” and thanked the university for its “commitment to supporting Boston’s economy and promoting inclusion and opportunity in our communities.”
This investment isn’t a financial investment only. It’s an investment in making the neighborhood thrive.
—President Joseph E. Aoun
Aoun said that the lending program is part of Northeastern’s comprehensive investment in the surrounding communities. “We are a global university, but this is where our heart is,” he said. “This is where our roots are, and if this community is thriving then we all will be thriving.”
As part of the new program, Northeastern has committed $2.5 million in seed funding , which will allow for a revolving fund of $6.5 million in loans. The university has partnered with Local Initiatives Support Corporation, a nonprofit that provides loans and advisory services to underserved small businesses. LISC will administer and oversee the loans, ranging from $1,000 to $1 million, with Northeastern’s seed funding serving as a guarantee. The loans can be used for a variety of business needs, including hiring new staff, obtaining new equipment and facilities, and purchasing inventory.
At the event, Broovelt Lacet, vice president and co-owner of Thom S. Carlson Corp., a general contracting firm located on Huntington Avenue, just steps away from Northeastern’s campus, spoke about the impact of his company’s partnership with the university. “It’s more than a partnership,” he said. “I call it a relationship.”
Lacet—better known as “Broo”—told the crowd that nearly all the employees live in the neighborhoods surrounding the university and have all benefited from the employment and professional support. “Northeastern gives us a lot of opportunity for growth,” he said.
Lacet’s company works with the university’s Facilities division with a range of work and services across campus year-round. In the summer, for example, workers paint in the residence halls and in the winter they are part of the university’s snow removal team. They also help out during the busy move-in and move-out periods.
Of the Impact Lending program, Aoun added: “This investment isn’t a financial investment only. It’s an investment in making the neighborhood thrive.”