The Bulletin Board

Proposed program would help women and people of color access capital

By: - November 8, 2021 2:57 pm
stack of 100 dollar bills

The $1 million scholarship fund would cover both the borrower fee and the bank fee in the loan process for those who are eligible. (Getty Images)

Proposed legislation would make money available to assist business owners who haven’t historically had access to capital, including women and racially diverse residents of New Hampshire.

The $1 million scholarship fund would cover both the borrower fee and the bank fee in the loan process for those who are eligible. The goal is to provide financing to small businesses whose annual revenue is less than $5 million, and to attract a younger and more diverse workforce.

“We know that there are pretty significant disparities and persistent gaps in access to financial capital,” said Sen. Becky Whitley, a Hopkinton Democrat who is sponsoring the legislation. She said the bill, which would start working its way through the Legislature this upcoming session, is meant to bridge those gaps.

The program would operate through an already existing Capital Access Program, which is run by the New Hampshire Business Finance Authority.

Whitley estimates the $1 million scholarship fund could yield $10 million in lending and economic growth. She decided to pursue the legislation after seeing a CNBC study where New Hampshire’s ranking for business dropped by 12 spots this year to number 37 in the nation.

When it came to access to capital, New Hampshire earned an “F” in the study, and the state earned poor marks on both the cost of living and aging workforce.

Whitley said the funding for the scholarship program could come from American Rescue Plan Act money or other discretionary federal funding, although using some state dollars is also on the table to demonstrate the state’s commitment.   

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Amanda Gokee
Amanda Gokee

Amanda Gokee is the New Hampshire Bulletin’s energy and environment reporter. She previously reported on these issues at VTDigger. Amanda grew up in Vermont and is a graduate of Harvard University. She received her master’s degree in liberal studies, with a concentration in creative writing, from Dartmouth College. Her work has also appeared in the LA Review of Books and the Valley News.