Twenty Years. $80 million in loans. 10,000 jobs.
In 1999, CEO Grace Fricks founded ACE’s lending program in response to the lack of available start-up capital for North Georgia Technical College graduates wanting to start businesses. Fricks and Kim Foster, former ACE board member, decided to create a loan fund to serve North Georgia with financial backing from the Appalachian Regional Commission. Presently, ACE serves 68 counties, including all of Metropolitan Atlanta and North Georgia.
Since 2000, ACE has made more than $80 million in loans and created or retained more than 10,000 jobs.
Facts about ACE’s customers in 2019:
- 48% have businesses in Metro Atlanta
- 87% are from underserved populations
- 37% of loan funds provided to women business owners
- 45% of loan funds provided to African American small business owners
- 15% of loan funds provided to Hispanic small business owners
Recently named as the U.S. Small Business Administration’s Georgia Office as the Financial Services Champion of the Year, ACE is an SBA Microloan Intermediary, a USDA Intermediary Relender and a certified Community Development Financial Institution (CDFI). Operation as a CDFI means creating jobs and opportunities for low income and under-served populations while executing sound financial and portfolio management. Certification requirements are stringent and include maintaining certain operating ratios and continued reporting to the US Department of Treasury. Sources of loan funds include SBA, USDA, U.S. Treasury, banks and foundations.
In response to the lack of financing for environmentally-friendly small business projects, ACE created Georgia Green Loans in 2008 to serve green businesses and those seeking to develop sustainable business practices. Georgia Green Loans includes Save & Sustain, a program which provides subsidized energy audits and low-interest commercial energy efficiency loans to small businesses as well as the Healthy Food Financing Initiative (HFFI), a program designed to provide financing for stores in “food deserts” where access to fresh fruits and vegetables were unavailable.
In 2013, through the Clinton Global Initiative America (CGI America), ACE made a “Commitment to Action” to implement the Women Investing in Successful Entrepreneurs (WISE) program. With this new and promising WISE program, ACE commits to providing access to capital, combined with business education and advisory services, focused on women who are starting or expanding businesses in North Georgia and the Atlanta area.