Sign-Up for Fig Weekly
Sign-up for Fig Weekly and receive weekly content that includes new blogs and features, local events, and happenings in Lancaster delivered directly to your inbox.
Get the Print Magazine
Get your own fresh Fig Lancaster delivered to your doorstep 4x a year. Be inspired by the latest trends, happenings and thoughts about a downtown Lancaster lifestyle.
Suggest an Event
The online Fig calendar is a curated list of community and advertiser events happening in downtown Lancaster.
August 12, 2020
Community First Fund: Continuing to Impact Lancaster
As uncertain times continue to affect small businesses throughout Lancaster County amid COVID-19, Community First Fund has aided in financial relief for many minority business owners whose economic fate seems undetermined. Aside from their ability to connect with borrowers on an interpersonal level, Community First Fund truly values self-reliance by collaborating with its lenders in administrating helpful resources that guide business owners towards future success.
Providing SBA Paycheck Protection Program (PPP) and Small Business Emergency Fund Loans and Grants, Community First Fund continues to create sustainable prosperity for low wealth communities and minority business owners seeking assistance in trying times, leaving many of its recipients’ hopeful for months to come as Lancaster begins to reshape the way in which we do business.
Providing community support during difficult times
With over 24 years of clinical practice experience as a general dentist, Dr. Ethel A. Esianor-Mitchual has been in the area for nearly 20 years.
Located on 822 Marietta Ave, she works diligently to ensure that her office runs smoothly while catering to patient’s dentistry needs. A community, within the community, she describes her practice as “a place where people want to be”.
Prior to the coronavirus, Dr. Ethel A. Esianor-Mitchual offered patients comprehensive dental care with a more holistic approach, but slowly lost revenue due to stay at home orders that rendered businesses helpless in attempts to keep staff on board. Options were limited as the practiced pulled resources to ensure that employees could receive financial relief before talks of layoffs began to surface. Patients have turned away with the hopes of rescheduling appointments soon. But for Dr. Esianor-Mitchual, and many small business owners in the area, “soon” could not come fast enough.
“My practice is like a little family within the Lancaster community. My team relies on me to do so much. It was scary not knowing if I could afford to keep the doors open. That’s why I turned to Community First Fund for assistance”. They stepped in when all options were exhausted, even though she had doubts about taking out another loan.
“Community First Fund works with you to meet you where you stand. I was not going to apply for a PPP loan but being as though I already had a relationship with this nonprofit lender, I felt comfortable knowing that Community First Fund would understand my needs.”
And they did.
Taking a different approach to business
President of Reliance Medical Billing Solutions, LLC, Ben Eison is a respected member of the Lancaster County community, where he works hard to ensure that entrepreneurial ideas come to life.
Throughout his professional career, Ben understands the importance of developing customer relationships while keeping ties to the community in which he serves. This is why the decision to do business with Community First Fund was an easy choice to make.
“The first time I met the team at Community First, I was so impressed with their deep commitment to our community and the people who were trying to do the right thing. It was never about the size of the business or what we had to offer. It was always about giving back to the community”. Once the pandemic hit, Ben and his team were looking for additional resources to stay afloat; “They talked to us about several options and guided us through the start-up process. We were barely up and fully operating when COVID hit. Without Community First Funds’ involvement, we would have certainly lost our business and our dream”.
Throughout his experience with Community First, Ben has come to realize what an amazing community we live in. When asked, his advice for first-time small business owners looking to apply for a loan through Community First Fund;
“Write down all your goals, thoughts, and ideas. Then speak to Community First and truly listen to what they have to offer, how they can help. Ask all your questions and if you think of additional questions, do not hesitate to call or engage them in your endeavor. Be honest about your dream and don’t ever give up!”
Making change where it counts
Since starting her business in 2015, Dr. Amanda Kemp uses her services as a racial justice coach to inform people of their hidden bias and racism in a time where it’s needed most.
From participating in actions that express her grief to educating clients on ways to show up for the black community, Dr. Kemp doesn’t shy away from having tough conversations that speak to the heart. “I’m very clear that my lane is as a creator and educator. I teach and perform in a way that invites people to stay in their hearts and to speak from within”. After the coronavirus forced businesses to close shop, Dr. Kemp and her team started to work online with individuals and have moved to working with organizations helping to build awareness of racial injustices.
Once Dr. Kemp’s big bank failed her, Community First Fund provided their support by giving Amanda the resources she needed to turn her business around.
“The effort it took to get a loan via Community First was big; I almost gave up, but I'm so glad that I got in touch with them to explain my situation and to get clarity about financial documents and projections required. I know that Community First cares about my business and wants me to succeed.”
This quarantine has brought many challenges and opportunities for business owners in the community. By exceeding lender expectations and providing great customer care, Community First Fund empowers business owners like Dr. Ethel Esianor-Mitchual, Ben Eison, and Dr. Amanda Kemp by being impactful during difficult times.
Make a Meaningful Investment that Generates High Impact
Businesses like the ones profiled in this story are helped by community-focused individuals looking to make a social impact by investing with Community First Fund. The Community First Impact Investment Fund was created for those seeking more than just a monetary return on their investment. Each dollar invested directly supports neighborhood development and high impact projects that provide core necessities for low-income people in our communities. Investments in this fund create affordable housing, food resources, accessible healthcare, educational opportunities, and economic security for our neighborhoods. Your investment helps build vibrant and healthy communities and supports the creation of businesses like those above. To help support local businesses, potential investors can reach out via email at firstname.lastname@example.org.
Written by Amirah’ Ebony