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Wells Fargo grant will fund $28 million in loans for Atlanta small businesses

Grace Fricks of ACE

By Maria Saporta

The Wells Fargo Foundation is giving a $2.8 million grant to ACE (Access to Capital for Entrepreneurs) in an effort spark small business growth, especially in minority communities.

The grant, which will be officially announced Tuesday afternoon, will accelerate the growth of diverse small businesses and help create 500 jobs. ACE, a Georgia nonprofit, will use part of the grant to partner with the Morehouse Innovation and Entrepreneurship Center, which will provide management coaching and training to the small businesses.

Grace Fricks of ACE

“The grant from Wells Fargo is the largest grant in our history so far,” said Grace Fricks, CEO of ACE. “We leverage money. With this grant, we are going to make $28 million in loans. We give people a chance when others can’t or won’t.”

Chad Gregory, the region bank president for Wells Fargo in Atlanta, said the grant is part of the its Diverse Community Capital Program, which started in 2015.

“We have a long-standing partnership with ACE,” Gregory said. “They do a great job with access to capital and technical assistance to help businesses thrive. We couldn’t ask for better partners than ACE and Morehouse.”

Chad Gregory

Chad Gregory of Wells Fargo

The $2.8 million grant is expected to help create 500 jobs, and it will be leveraged to provide $28 million in loans for at least 250 diverse small businesses.

Tiffany Bussey, director of the Morehouse Innovation and Entrepreneurship Center, said the college’s role will be to prepare those companies with management skills.

“My goal is to really link the faculty and the students and provide them real world experience,” Bussey said. “We will be using those companies as real live case studies for our students. It is a unique opportunity for them to be working side-by-side with those companies. Our students will be able to become engaged and maybe be inspired to become entrepreneurs themselves.”

Tiffany Bussey of Morehouse College

Gregory said Wells Fargo, through its Diverse Community Capital Program, has given away $175 million since 2015 to diverse small businesses. To date, the program has provided 322,000 hours of technical assistance; $781 million in financing to minority small businesses; and it has enabled 103,000 jobs.

ACE said the Wells Fargo grant will expand its relationship with Morehouse, one that began three years ago.

“Our recipe is combining capital with coaching and connections,” Fricks said. “Having a relationship with Morehouse is going to give businesses a leg up.”

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Maria Saporta

Maria Saporta, Editor, is a longtime Atlanta business, civic and urban affairs journalist with a deep knowledge of our city, our region and state.  Since 2008, she has written a weekly column and news stories for the Atlanta Business Chronicle. Prior to that, she spent 27 years with The Atlanta Journal-Constitution, becoming its business columnist in 1991. Maria received her Master’s degree in urban studies from Georgia State and her Bachelor’s degree in journalism from Boston University. Maria was born in Atlanta to European parents and has two young adult children.

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