FirstEnergy Contributes $1 Million to Venture Capital Organization to Support Minority Businesses in Northeast Ohio

Published on: 09 March 2022
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UBIZ Venture Capital, affiliated with Urban League of Greater Cleveland, will help FirstEnergy’s Supply Chain group expand opportunities for African American and other disadvantaged small business suppliers

To help expand and grow minority-owned businesses in northeast Ohio, FirstEnergy Corp. (NYSE: FE) today announced a $1 million contribution to UBIZ Venture Capital, a small business lending program affiliated with the Urban League of Greater Cleveland, a 501(c)(3) organization. UBIZ provides counseling, technical assistance and loans to African American and minority-owned businesses with high-growth potential that are having difficulty securing capital.

The FirstEnergy grant will be used to establish the new "UBIZ Access Fund II," which will make loans to qualifying minority-owned or controlled small businesses located in Cuyahoga, Summit, Lake and Lorain counties. FirstEnergy's contribution will be paid in quarterly installments of $250,000, and UBIZ will provide quarterly reports to FirstEnergy summarizing the UBIZ Access Fund II lending activity.

"By contributing to UBIZ Venture Capital, our goal is to help minority-owned businesses make a positive economic impact in our northeast Ohio service area, with the hope that some of these companies become FirstEnergy suppliers,"

said Rich Sweeney, vice president, Supply Chain, FirstEnergy.

"Supporting UBIZ is an extension of our existing Diverse Supplier Development Program, which involves mentorship and training for minority-owned businesses throughout the FirstEnergy footprint. UBIZ has a strong history of identifying and successfully supporting minority businesses and we look forward to partnering with them."

FirstEnergy has committed to achieving a 20% diversity spend by 2025 for its company-wide Supply Chain expenditures. In 2021, FirstEnergy achieved 16% of Supply Chain spending with diverse suppliers.

"We greatly appreciate FirstEnergy's generosity and willingness to create the UBIZ Access Fund II to expand the scope of our small business loan program,"

said Michael Obi, executive vice president, Economic Development, Urban League of Greater Cleveland and president of UBIZ Venture Capital.

"FirstEnergy's support aligns with UBIZ's long-term goal of sustaining existing, and creating additional, viable, minority-owned small businesses that generate jobs for community residents and build community wealth."

To be considered for an UBIZ Access Fund II loan, interested businesses can go to www.ubiz.biz.

FirstEnergy is dedicated to integrity, safety, reliability and operational excellence. Its ten electric distribution companies form one of the nation's largest investor-owned electric systems, serving customers in Ohio, Pennsylvania, New Jersey, West Virginia, Maryland and New York. The company's transmission subsidiaries operate approximately 24,000 miles of transmission lines that connect the Midwest and Mid-Atlantic regions. Follow FirstEnergy on Twitter @FirstEnergyCorp or online at www.firstenergycorp.com.

Source: FirstEnergy newsroom

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