FirstEnergy contributes $1m to UBIZ Venture Capital to support minority businesses in Northeast Ohio

FirstEnergy contributes $1m to UBIZ Venture Capital to support minority businesses in Northeast Ohio

Published: 11-03-2022 13:08:00 | By: Pie Kamau | hits: 567 | Tags:

To help expand and grow minority-owned businesses in northeast Ohio, FirstEnergy announced a $1 million contribution to UBIZ Venture Capital, a small business lending program affiliated with the Urban League of Greater Cleveland, a 501(c)(3) organization. UBIZ provides counseling, technical assistance and loans to African American and minority-owned businesses with high-growth potential that are having difficulty securing capital.

The FirstEnergy grant will be used to establish the new "UBIZ Access Fund II," which will make loans to qualifying minority-owned or controlled small businesses located in Cuyahoga, Summit, Lake and Lorain counties. FirstEnergy's contribution will be paid in quarterly installments of $250,000, and UBIZ will provide quarterly reports to FirstEnergy summarizing the UBIZ Access Fund II lending activity.

Rich Sweeney, VP, Supply Chain, FirstEnergy: "By contributing to UBIZ Venture Capital, our goal is to help minority-owned businesses make a positive economic impact in our northeast Ohio service area, with the hope that some of these companies become FirstEnergy suppliers. Supporting UBIZ is an extension of our existing Diverse Supplier Development Program, which involves mentorship and training for minority-owned businesses throughout the FirstEnergy footprint. UBIZ has a strong history of identifying and successfully supporting minority businesses and we look forward to partnering with them."

FirstEnergy has committed to achieving a 20% diversity spend by 2025 for its company-wide Supply Chain expenditures. In 2021, FirstEnergy achieved 16% of Supply Chain spending with diverse suppliers.

Michael Obi, President, UBIZ Venture Capital: "We greatly appreciate FirstEnergy's generosity and willingness to create the UBIZ Access Fund II to expand the scope of our small business loan program. FirstEnergy's support aligns with UBIZ's long-term goal of sustaining existing, and creating additional, viable, minority-owned small businesses that generate jobs for community residents and build community wealth."

FirstEnergy is dedicated to integrity, safety, reliability and operational excellence. Its ten electric distribution companies form one of the nation's largest investor-owned electric systems, serving customers in OhioPennsylvaniaNew JerseyWest VirginiaMaryland and New York. The company's transmission subsidiaries operate approximately 24,000 miles of transmission lines that connect the Midwest and Mid-Atlantic regions.