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Certified Loan Organization Reinforces Commitment to Rising Tide Community Loan Fund

By Colin McEvoy on January 19, 2021

The Lehigh Valley Economic Investment Corporation (LVEIC) has approved the forgiveness of two loans totaling $50,000 for the Rising Tide Community Loan Fund, which provides loans to Lehigh Valley small businesses and startups in need.

Forgiving these loans speaks to LVEIC’s commitment to and investment in the Lehigh Valley small business community, particularly underserved businesses who may have trouble accessing small business loans.

LVEIC is a Pennsylvania certified economic development organization, for which the Lehigh Valley Economic Development Corporation (LVEDC) provides administrative services. The forgiveness of two loans of $25,000 each were approved by the LVEIC board last month.

“Rising Tide has a long-standing, demonstrated track record of success providing economic opportunity to countless small businesses located in underserved, often economically-challenged urban centers,” said LVEIC Chair Christopher Brown, Senior Vice President, Commercial Market Executive with Fulton Bank. “We look forward to continuing our partnership with Rising Tide and helping them to support their mission for many years to come.”

Rising Tide is a not for profit tax exempt corporation and subsidiary of the Community Action Committee of the Lehigh Valley (CACLV). The loans will be used to lend to various types of businesses through its revolving loan fund.

The mission of Rising Tide is to identify small business and community development credit needs in low- to moderate-income communities and assist with affordable credit products. It also provides counseling, technical and other resources for these businesses.

The two loans had previously been extended by LVEIC, and the Rising Tide had requested last month that they be extended again. But given the nature of the Rising Tide’s work, the LVEIC board decided it was in the best interest of both organizations to forgive the loans rather than extend them further, Brown said.

The loans had originally been approved by two separate organizations: the Industrial Development Corporation of Lehigh County and Lehigh’s Economic Advancement Project. Those two entities have since been combined into LVEIC.

Rising Tide provides extensive technical assistance in addition to micro- and small-business loans of up to $150,000 to potential and existing entrepreneurs. Loan proceeds may be used for working capital, asset purchase, leasehold improvements, business acquisition, and a variety of other activities.

The program has a documented track record of providing quality, in-depth technical assistance and loan products that meet the needs of small business borrowers. It is funded through grants, loans and various community partners.

Rising Tide is most interested in entrepreneurs who reside within low- to moderate-income areas, plan to open a business within low- to moderate-income areas, and those who have incomes at or below 80% of median for the Lehigh Valley.

As of October, Rising Tide has made 264 loans in the Lehigh Valley totaling $9.2 million since its inception, creating or retaining in excess of 1,050 jobs in the process, according to CACLV.

Of the 264 loans, 156 were made to wholly- or partially-women-owned businesses, 90 are to wholly- or partially-minority­ owned businesses and 172 were made to low- to moderate-income individuals or businesses located in a low- to moderate-income census tract. The current portfolio consists of 97 loans totaling in excess of $3 million. 

In response to the pandemic, the Rising Tide temporarily shifted its focus from a lender to a provider of the COVID-19 Relief PA Statewide Small Business Assistance grants. It was one of only 18 Community Development Financial Institution (CFDI) organizations in the state to participate in the program, and the only CDFI headquartered in the Lehigh Valley.

In that capacity, Rising Tide was been instrumental in assisting over 600 Lehigh Valley businesses by securing over $1 million in aid, according to October figures.

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