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New Fund from Pathway Lending Anchors Inclusive Growth Effort by Financial, Philanthropic and Community Partners, Brings Key Local Hires and Office Expansion

CHATTANOOGA, Tenn. (June 9, 2021) – Chattanooga’s profile as an entrepreneurship hub gets a boost with a new $7.5 million loan fund Pathway Lending announced today. Part of a collaborative effort to advance an inclusive recovery and small business ecosystem, the Chattanooga Small Business Opportunity Fund aims to improve access to capital for area small and minority-led businesses, particularly borrowers who may not qualify for a conventional bank business loan.

Pinnacle Financial Partners, First Horizon Bank, and Regions Bank provided capital to establish the loan fund along with grant support from The Benwood, Bobby Stone, Footprint and Lyndhurst Foundations, JPMorgan Chase Foundation and Pointer Management Co. Pathway Lending, a regional nonprofit Community Development Financial Institution (CDFI), will administer the fund from its new local office located in the Edney Innovation Center.

“The path to shared prosperity and an equitable recovery in Tennessee runs through our small businesses,” said Craig Holley, Pinnacle’s Chattanooga chairman. “They make economic growth possible and provide opportunities that improve the quality of life for individuals and entire communities. We at Pinnacle proudly support them every day and passionately advocate for them through our tremendous partners like Pathway Lending.”

“For the last 157 years, First Horizon has assisted small businesses through all types of challenges,” noted Jay Dale, market president of First Horizon. “We know that the strength of our local economy relies on the health of our small businesses. Now more than ever, it’s important to have funding in place to meet needs and grow efforts to support the vision of small business owners and entrepreneurs, and there’s simply no better place than Chattanooga to make it happen.”

“This is a great day for local small businesses owners who desire to provide much-needed services in our communities but face unique funding challenges that require special care to overcome, said Michael Mathis, Chattanooga market executive for Regions Bank. “We are proud to partner with Pathway to help level the playing field by connecting these hard-working small business owners with the funding they need to be successful.”

“We are grateful for the tremendous support from the banks and grant funders,” said Charlie Brock, entrepreneur, investor and Pinnacle board member. “We all share optimism that
Pathway’s expanded presence in Chattanooga will be a crucial tool to closing the wealth gap and providing additional resources to our small business community.”

Pathway will begin deploying funds to approved borrowers in Chattanooga immediately with loans that range from $5,000 to $500,000 for working capital lines of credit, term loans for equipment and real estate, and microloans. Pathway Lending will also develop targeted loan products in connection with JPMorgan Chase’s support.

“Supporting small businesses and entrepreneurs is key to unlocking the type of opportunity that lifts communities,” said Brandon Abney, Vice President, Commercial Banking, JPMorgan Chase. “There is a strong small business ecosystem in Chattanooga, and the Chattanooga Small Business Opportunity Fund will play a foundational role in developing long-term, inclusive growth in our region.”

Strengthening an Inclusive Small Business Ecosystem
With support from JPMorgan Chase, Pathway Lending, LAUNCH and the Urban League of Greater Chattanooga (ULGC) are collaborating to find innovate ways to strengthen Chattanooga’s small business ecosystem for its small and minority-led businesses. To guide that work, Pathway Lending and ULGC will undertake research to identify existing minority-owned businesses prepared to scale, assess their capital and capacity needs, and uncover gaps in the ecosystem. They expect to complete and publish the research in late summer or early fall 2021.

“Chattanooga has shown a remarkable commitment to bringing the whole of the community along in its climb as a hub for entrepreneurs,” said Pathway Lending’s President and CEO Clint Gwin. “Funding and know-how are critical to the success of all entrepreneurs and small businesses, and it takes a variety of approaches to meet their needs. That’s why we think this research-led collaboration represents such a promising model for reaching more entrepreneurs in this region with a stronger set of tools that can unlock their growth potential.”

The community partners will coordinate to offer a broad range of technical assistance to prepare minority entrepreneurs to navigate growth, access capital, and adapt to working in the new digital environment accelerated by the pandemic.

“We are very encouraged by the Pathway model of lending and what this will mean for lower income and first-time entrepreneurs who simply do not qualify for traditional loans,” said Mike Pollock, Executive Director, Bobby Stone Foundation. “Our Trustees really want to see the dreams of minority business owners come to fruition and ultimately play a larger role in our local economy. Pathway offers both the capital needed to advance the business but also a support team to mentor growth. We’re excited by the possibilities.”

Pathway Lending clients will be able to access Pathway Learning, an online on-demand learning platform available anytime, anywhere, where they can get coaching from an expert member of Pathway’s business advisory services team and a complete catalog of programs offered by PathwayWBC and the Veteran’s Business Outreach Center at Pathway Lending.

“Small and locally-owned businesses make our community unique, and while the need for this fund existed prior to the pandemic, we know that small minority-owned businesses, often already under-resourced, were among those hit the hardest,” said Lisa Pinckney, Executive Director, Footprint Foundation. “We hope this Chattanooga-specific fund bolsters our local economy not only by addressing the need to expand small minority-led businesses’ access to capital but also deepening the technical assistance they can access, too.”

Key Hires, Local Office Expand Chattanooga Presence
To support the new loan fund and collaboration, Pathway Lending has established a local office and added two new key hires to fill newly created roles. Pathway Lending welcomes Katie Hendrix as its new VP of Stakeholder & Client Development and Quentin Lawrence as its new VP of Lending for Chattanooga. Katie and Quentin will work from the Edney Innovation Center where Pathway Lending has located its new office.

Katie joins Pathway Lending from CO.LAB in Chattanooga. As CO.LAB’s Chief of Staff, she ran the CO.LAB Capital Network, working closely with entrepreneurs and investors to provide access to capital in the area.

Quentin joins Pathway Lending from Hope for the Inner City, Inc. where he served as Deputy Executive Director and Relationship Director for the local community and economic development nonprofit.
Entrepreneurs and small business owners interested in learning more about application requirements and loan offerings may contact Quentin Lawrence at (615) 732-7132 or [email protected]

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About Pathway Lending
Founded in 1999 and based in Nashville, Pathway Lending is a community development financial institution (CDFI) certified by the U.S. Department of the Treasury. It has grown to become a major lending institution in the Southeast, propelling meaningful economic growth in communities across the region. In 2020, Pathway Lending made more than $46.1 million in loans and delivered 15,790 hours of technical assistance and education. Get to know our mission and the stories of the entrepreneurs and communities we serve at PathwayLending.org.




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