Charter Communications has earmarked $10 million to fuel a new fund designed to help small local businesses located in underserved parts of Charter's service area.
The new Spectrum Community Investment Local Fund will focus on making loans through community development financial institutions (CDFIs) to small businesses that "help meet core needs" in underserved communities in Charter's 41-state service area.
Charter, which ended 2019 with almost 2,000 small and midsized business customers, said the fund will invest $10 million in capital by the end of 2021, and make loans of up to $1 million to each CDFI. Charter will also provide each CDFI with a separate additional grant that will provide eligible small businesses with additional training and technical expertise aimed at helping them establish sound business practices needed for long-term growth.
In the first half of this year, the Spectrum Community Investment Loan Fund will invest $1 million in Pursuit Community Finance (formerly known as the Excelsior Growth Fund) in New York, and $1 million in PeopleFund, a CDFI based in Texas. The program aims to invest an additional $4 million collectively by the end of the first quarter of 2021 in selected CDFIs in California, Florida, North Carolina and Wisconsin. The initial $7 million investments will be funneled to states comprising 70% of Charter's more than 29 million customers, Charter said.
Charter is working with Cabrera Capital Markets to head up the due diligence process of the funds' first three CDFI investments.
The new fund from the private sector comes alongside a wide range of federal funds being earmarked for unserved and underserved parts of the country.
"Through these investments in local small businesses, Charter will positively impact financially underserved communities by providing growth capital, creating new jobs and strengthening
businesses," Charter Chairman and CEO Tom Rutledge said in a statement.
— Jeff Baumgartner, Senior Editor, Light Reading, special to Broadband World News