The W.K. Kellogg Foundation has announced an investment of $10 million to establish the Battle Creek Small Business Fund (BCSMF) in support of BCVision, a community effort launched by the foundation and the Kellogg Company to address the most serious issues in Battle Creek and catalyze equitable economic development in the city.
To that end, the foundation will invest $1 million directly in the fund and will match local contributions on a two-to-one-basis, up to $10 million. With the $1 million from the foundation and contributions totaling $1.8 million from the Kellogg Company, Battle Creek Unlimited, and the Miller Foundation, which qualified for the 2:1 match, the fund has attracted $6.4 million to date.
With a focus on startup enterprises — which struggle to gain access to capital — and entrepreneurs of color, the loan fund is open to all small businesses in the area. According to the foundation, startup support is an essential part of creating a thriving and equity-driven entrepreneurial ecosystem. A new enterprise incubator offering technical assistance to help residents nurture, refine, and turn their ideas into businesses, including business development knowledge, mentoring, and connections for capital growth, is expected to launch in late 2018.
"We are committed to accelerating transformation in Battle Creek so that all children will thrive. Creating a vibrant economic climate is critical to changing conditions, and that requires all of us to concentrate efforts and speed up the process," said WKKF president and CEO La June Montgomery Tabron. "The Battle Creek Small Business Loan Fund will provide the capital and technical assistance that can spark small business development and help local entrepreneurs scale up."