Wells Fargo gives $1.5M in grants that will help underserved (and underbanked) communities in Trenton, South Jersey

Wells Fargo is making good on its promise to help underserved communities.

On Monday, the bank announced it is giving a grant of $1 million to the Trenton Regional Business Assistance Corp. and a grant of $500,000 to the Camden-based Cooperative Business Assistance Corp. The grants are part of the Wells Fargo Open for Business Fund, which was created last year.

The organizations will use the grants to provide low-interest loans to small businesses that — for a variety of reasons — lacked the access to such capital.

Tomas Porturas, vice president of social impact and sustainability, said Wells Fargo hopes the funding will help underserved small businesses in Trenton and South Jersey stay open and preserve jobs through short- and long-term COVID-19 resiliency efforts. It also will expand microlending activities and programming for diverse business owners.

“Wells Fargo’s Open for Business Fund is another avenue of support and enlists the expertise of our CDFI partners to urgently help diverse South Jersey entrepreneurs recover and preserve the jobs they provide in their communities,” he said. “The funding will provide much-needed access to capital with increased equity in resources and technical assistance for local businesses, which are the backbone of our local economies and neighborhoods.”

Wells Fargo launched the Open for Business Fund in 2020 as an approximately $400 million small business recovery effort across the U.S. to help entrepreneurs recover and rebuild. The initiative focuses on increasing access to capital, technical expertise and long-term resiliency programs.

Some of the money in the fund came from fees the bank received for processing PPP loans.

To date, Wells Fargo has distributed more than $84 million across 32 states to help entrepreneurs hard-hit by COVID-19, with the grants enabling entrepreneurs to maintain roughly 50,000 jobs.

Harry Stone, CEO and president of CBAC, said the program fills a need.

“This partnership with Wells Fargo allows us to fill a lending gap that many traditional financial institutions are unable to fill,” he said. “We are grateful to help support small business in these challenging times and help fledgling businesses to grow and thrive.”