In 2021, legacy Bank Leumi (now Valley Bank) created the LevelUp Fund to support South Florida’s small business owners through the Urban League of Broward County’s CDFI, Central County Community Development Corporation (CCCDC). The organization activates community and economic development revitalization efforts in low income communities and to transform the physical, social, and economic infrastructures for better outcomes for residents and businesses.
“The LevelUp Fund embodies our commitment to support the communities we serve,” said Jeff Watts, National Head of Corporate Banking at Valley Bank. “We’re proud to have developed a program that equips local entrepreneurs and business owners with the financial resources and education needed to achieve success.”
The LevelUp Fund offers low-interest loans from $10,000 – $50,000 to minority- and women-owned small businesses with twenty-five (25) or fewer employees in Broward, Miami-Dade, and Palm Beach Counties. To qualify, businesses need to be in business for at least 18+ months and looking to sustain their activity and grow. The Fund provides applicants with working capital, contract capital and/or equipment, machinery, and technology purchases to help the businesses grow and scale.
Likewise, Valley supports the Small Business Loan Fund through the CDFI, which provides loans from $10,000 – $250,000 to the same pool of eligible applicants to provide working capital to expand their business through real estate construction and acquisitions and refinance predatory small business loans.
“Access to financial resources and education is vital for any aspiring entrepreneur to achieve success,” said Charles Keys, CRA Officer at Valley Bank. “That’s where the LevelUp Fund and the Small Business Fund, along with our staff’s expertise, can be a real benefit for these small business owners. We’re grateful to support the work of the Urban League through these programs that are designed to empower these entrepreneurs to thrive professionally.”
For the past two years, these Funds have helped fuel the growth of small businesses and new entrepreneurs in South Florida, bolstering the local economies and providing these entrepreneurs with the resources to take their business plans to the next level.
To further encourage entrepreneurism, Valley has offered a quarterly series of educational courses for small business owners through the Urban League’s Entrepreneurship Center. These Small Business Bootcamp courses are designed to help entrepreneurs establish a proper business foundation. Valley professionals cover every step of small business planning from developing a strategy and reviewing financials to learning how to apply for and utilize loans and stimulate growth through cash flow.
Additionally, small business owners can access Valley’s Technical Assistance Services through the Entrepreneurship Center. These individualized services assist owners with developing business plans and structures, understanding accounting and record keeping, and managing the business’ money, among other areas of focus.
In 2022, 698 business owners utilized the services provided by the Entrepreneurship Center and 245 business owners have received individualized technical assistance. Four (4) loans were issued, fueling the growth of minority- and women-owned small businesses in South Florida, and ultimately, fueling the health of the region’s local economies.
“Valley’s loan programs coupled with a community of support, training and resources have been a game changer for our clients,” said Dr. Germaine Smith-Baugh, President and CEO of the Urban League of Broward County. ‘We’re proud to partner with an organization that is committed to helping local businesses and communities thrive.”
We are proud to support the Urban League’s work through these programs and to provide access to resources that help small businesses and entrepreneurs prosper and empower the communities we serve in South Florida.
To learn more about these programs, please visit www.ulbroward.org.