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Business as Usual: Resources to Build Your Small Business

Business as Usual

Join Business as Usual to learn more about powerful resources through Google Grow and Bridgeway Capital to start and/or build your small business. TJ Bogdewic, President and CEO of Bridgeway Capital, and Erica Swanson, Head of Community Engagement for Google Grow, will overview key resources and take your questions. Google Grow offers free training, tools and resources to help you grow yourskills, career and business. Bridgeway launched the Creative Businesses Accelerator to channel its 30 years of business building and community development capability into the creative economy. The CBA empowers creative businesses to contribute more actively to equitable economic growth.

Transcription: 

Good afternoon, everyone. This is Audrey Russo, President and CEO of the Pittsburgh Technology Council. I believe we are in six months of COVID. And we've been doing the show every day, and having a lot of fun as well as talking about a lot of issues that affect each and every one of us across the tech community. And today is no different. So I'm very excited about that. I'm joined here by Jonathan Kersting. He's vice president of all things media and marketing for the tech Council. And he just celebrated 23 years at the tech Council, which I just want to give him a big shout out for that for an organization that's been around for 37 years. He's been doing amazing work. So I want to thank everyone for joining us today. But I also want to give a shout out to Huntington bank, Huntington bank has been with us on our journey of many experiments right from the onset, they are, they've supported not only business as usual, but they do a lot of work in supporting small businesses. And they have been very, very active since the onset of COVID, both during COVID, and as normally post COVID. So they have been our friends, they are very active lender, they have brought tremendous amount of energy to the work that we do, and we really love their partnership. So today's program, and speaking about organizations that have stepped up to the community, we have two here today, and we're pretty stoked about them joining us. So I'm thrilled, and I'm going to introduce them, they're going to tell them so they're going to tell you a little bit about themselves. And so I don't botch up exactly how to articulate what they do. And I'm going to start with Erica Swanson. And Erica is head of community engagement for Grow with Google and she is with us right now from Sunnyvale. So thank you. Thanks for getting up and having your coffee with us. And we're glad that you're safe because I know that the fire is out there pretty intense. So Erica, tell us a little bit about yourself. And we can then I'll pass it to TJ Yeah. Are

you there?

Okay. Are you there? You're ready. You're hijk you're you're

right. Yeah.

My hanger. Yeah. Erica, let tell us hi Audrey is Hi.

All right. I'm getting a little bit of a lag. Okay, the thumbs up if anybody can hear. You can hear you. Thumbs up if anyone can hear.

Yeah.

Okay, great. All right. Hi, I'm Erica Swanson with Grow Google. I am here in Silicon Valley, assigned Adrienne to the team just a few minutes ago that were currently clubbed, covered in smoke and ash from the fires around us. So it's a bit of a sobering reminder of what very difficult times I think were in. The work I get to do at Google, though, gives me a lot of purpose, a lot of satisfaction, because it's really focused on creating economic opportunity grow with Google, is initiatives that we launched in 2017 in Pittsburgh, and we've been focused on creating economic opportunities, specifically how to make sure that the power and benefit of technology is accessible to all and can be a force for positive economic good. And I think the dual crises the health crisis, economic crisis, the racial justice, crisis or awakening, have all really put even more momentum and focus into the work that we do so from helping people grow their Our business or restart their career, it just feels like working in the space of economic opportunity or now economic recovery is more pressing than ever.

Okay, well good, and then we'll jump quickly to tj. TJ I'm you're gonna say your last name so I don't do anything erroneous. So welcome today.

I'm TJ Broderick, I'm the president and CEO of bridgeway capital, where a Pittsburgh based nonprofit we serve 15 counties from Erie down to Fayette and in Greene County in western Pennsylvania. We're what's referred to as a community development financial institution. That means we take a market based approach to community development by providing primarily lending capital that creates economic opportunities and revitalizes neighborhoods. We we have a mission and that's to make capital available to build a viable regional economy where everyone can thrive. We focus heavily on deploying capital in low and moderate income census tracts. Those are census tracts and household incomes well below the regional median. Historically, we've deployed we made about 81% of our loans and those census tracts. These days were over 90% of our of our loans are in low and moderate income census tract. We look in particular for ways to promote organic growth and wealth creation and retention within those communities. So we're really excited to be here today to talk more about specifically what we're doing in response to COVID. In the in the recently announced partnership with grow with Google.

Okay, that's great. And so Would it be okay, if we put a link to bridgeway in the chat?

That would absolutely be okay.

Okay, awesome. So now I'm going to jump back to Erica and Aaron. like to introduce the work that Google's doing, to go with grow with Google Small Business fun, which is launched back in March. And later on, magically expanded it to help African American owned businesses, but and you told us a little bit about yourself. So maybe if there's anything that you omitted there in terms of your brief history with Google, but if not, we can just start to talk about, you know, grow with Google.

Yeah, I'll jump right in there.

So I scraped growth Google as our economic opportunity initiative. We work across philanthropy, programming, and training to help people use digital tools. And what this has looked like for most of the most of our work has been all about helping small businesses learn how to use digital tools to grow their business and helping people learn how to use digital tools to grow their career, whether that's a career in technology or really any Middle skills feel today, they all require technology and basic digital skills. And when the COVID pandemic hit, and the economic crisis really began to set in, we knew that there was even more that we could do to help small businesses access, access, much needed capital, and responsible financing. And maybe like many of you, we saw that many small businesses were out of reach of the larger federal funds that were flowing, that CDFIs community development finance institutions were really on the front lines of making financing available to small businesses, many of whom have been historically overlooked by larger banking systems. And so we partnered with opportunity finance network o FM, which is a network of CDF eyes across the country. And we committed 100 and $70 million now. And responsible financing to flow through OFM, into the CDF eyes, they're in their network so that they could use their very nimble, fast, flexible lending practices and get those resources into the hands of small businesses who need them quickly. And bridgeway. capital is one of those CDFIs receiving funds from a weapon as part of this grow with Google Small Business fund.

So can you include your goals and the anticipated outcomes?

gap?

This is this is all about finding ways to be helpful. So small businesses have always been really important to Google. Our very first partners, our very first customers were small businesses. TJ I were just reflecting sharing some stories about some small business or entrepreneurs in Pittsburgh, including a woman in Nisha Blackwell, who built her business using YouTube using Google products helped her find new Tell her story. That's

really critical.

I've got many, they're the best

you do, maybe we should drop that link in there too.

But we do this work because it's really core to our values as Googlers. Googlers are people who work at Google, really core to our values, to find ways where our tools our products can be helpful to small businesses, because we say when small businesses succeed, we succeed. And the reality is the economic crisis meant that what small businesses needed was, was different and in addition to products, and digital tools, also really needed cash flow and needed it very quickly and the way that CDFIs can help distribute it. So the goal really is to be helpful to small businesses to show up in communities like Pittsburgh that we're proud to call home. And to support the larger ecosystem that were a part of.

Okay, great. So you've been really busy. Right, Erica? Are you running this program? All around the Yes, dates?

Yeah. Yeah. Busy is busy is good, right, keeping busy for good reasons. My role used to require me to travel a lot. I was on the road, a couple weeks a month traveling, we did digital skills, training events in all 50 states we launched in Pittsburgh, and I think I've been on the road since 2017 for Google, so in some ways now being home since March has been a bit of a relief. But we've had to pivot like like all small bit like small businesses, like nonprofit organizations, we've had to pivot the way that we do this work. And so for us that's meant changing the way we show up making sure that we're coming in with with investments that helped to address the the looming crash ISIS, and also changes that we're delivering digital skills workshops and trainings online. Much like this workshop right here. So we have thousands of partners around the country 8000 local partners who are using our curriculum to teach people how to use digital tools. And for many of them, it's the first time they've ever done anything like this online before taught workshops online. So coveting that work has been has been a real joy.

Good. Well, thank you. Thank you for your leadership. Yeah, this work. So let's just swing over to tj. And so TJ you know, as you introduce yourself and and probably didn't really convey, you actually lead one of Pittsburgh's prominent community development financial institutions and talk about bridgeway capital as an institution and share some examples of the work in the community and maybe really explain to our guests what the both of you know suitably of what CDF phi is

Yeah, as I started to touch on it's it's it's this mission based focus that really defines what a community development financial institution is. And so, you know, we we think of ourselves as, as mission based lenders, but also responsible lenders. We organize capital from a lot of different sources from foundation partners. from investors like Google Now, we borrow money from banks, we receive some money from different governmental agencies. We organize that capital, and really look for ways to deploy that both in real estate development and into small businesses across our region. And we do that responsibly. So are our loss rates, even though we're playing in what a lot of people would view as the margins of finance, our historic loss rates are around 1%. So for every hundred dollars we lend 99 of the is being is being paid back. So, you know, that's, that's probably way too high for most commercial banks, who are, you know, looking at loss rates of point 2% or something like that, but it's, it's still Responsible Lending. We're dealing with, you know, responsible businesses. And we're really targeting businesses that are in, as I said, those low to moderate income communities. We're looking for businesses that will create good paying jobs and those communities will revitalize main streets in those communities and And will pay us back. We also do a lot of commercial real estate lending, a lot of affordable housing investments. A lot of nonprofits that are looking to expand or acquire facilities will work with nonprofits as well. That's really the, the the core of what we do. We also own a building in Homewood at 7800 Square Hannah Street, a former Westinghouse factory, it's about 150,000 square foot facility five storeys. It was abandoned when, when bridgeway acquired it back going on six years ago now. And again, working with partners in the finance industry partners in government and foundation partners. we've converted that building into a Do a hub in that neighborhood for entrepreneurial activity. There's a lot of craft businesses in there. There's some wonderful job training facilities in there trade Institute of Pittsburgh, located there. The University of Pittsburgh has its machine Machine Learning Center in there that provides great job training opportunities for good paying careers. And we have about 25 tenants in that building. Now it's more or less fully occupied, and there's about 100 people going to work in that facility every day and dozens more going in and out. for for for job training. So, you know, we just we look for ways to put capital to work where it might not otherwise be put to work. Isn't

isn't 7800 Susquehanna street where Knox land is located as well.

So Nisha started out. Radiant Hall has this face in 7800. And Nisha started out in radian Hall space in 7800. About a year ago. Nisha left 7800 because she opened her own storefront in wilkinsburg. So she knows her production and sales out of our own storefront, which is exactly what radiant Hall wants to see and makes bridgeway happy as well.

That's great. That's great. Thank you. And so Google really hasn't trusted Ridgeway. Right, Erica, with a $5 million dollar loan fund to help support these small businesses and, and and talk a little bit further, dig a little bit deeper about why that fund is so important for our community, and then share an overview of how companies with financing needs can actually work to access those loans. Sure.

Go ahead.

I was gonna

I'll definitely let you take the latter half of that. Question there, TJ, um, I guess I was gonna jump in and say that, that this is precisely the design of this grow with Google Small Business fund is, is to invest in OFM to provide them with 100 and $70 million

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