Small Business & Entrepreneurship

Focus Area:

Small Business & Entrepreneurship


Goal: Support small businesses and encourage the entrepreneurship to enable the creation of high-growth ventures, main street amenities, and wealth-building for residents

A check presentation from the FLIC Program
What We Look To Achieve

Connecting Resources


Small businesses are the backbone of not just our local economy, but the United States as a whole. When you support a small business or use a local entrepreneur’s services, $0.68 per dollar stays local, more than half of what stays local when shopping at a large chain.  Access to capital has consistently been a hurdle by our small business community. So we are providing funding to a number of local organizations who directly support our small businesses and entrepreneurs.

The O’Pake Institute’s Financial Lending & Innovative Collaborative (FLIC) program  provides small grants to early stage businesses.

Barrio Alegria’s microlending program uses Lending Circles to work with small businesses and entrepreneurs by addressing credit repair through low-interest loans.

Penn State Berks LaunchBox offers microgrants to small businesses and entrepreneurs. Their Makerspace located in the GoggleWorks Center for the Arts provides prototyping and design and encouragement – Don’t Quit Your Daydream!  

Small Business Support:



Barrio Alegria is managing 16 microloans as of February 2023. Their connection to community has led to a natural partnership for connecting businesses to resources. Of the 16 loans, 10 are personal loans and 6 are business loans. These loans help address the issue of credit in a community which has been traditionally unbanked or underbanked.

Throughout the history of their loan program they have a nearly 93% payback rate, a high number for any loan program, let alone with businesses who may have never received a loan before.

Types of businesses supported to date:

  • Multiservice
  • Cleaning Companies
  • Restaurants/Bakeries
  • HVAC
  • Haircare
  • Laundromats


Some business owners with over 30 years of operations have not taken out a bank loan because of a general distrust with the banking system