In late 2014, the Erie County Gaming Revenue Authority committed to invest millions into Erie County businesses through “mission-related investments” made in partnership with financing institutions. A national movement to rethink how governments, philanthropic institutions, and corporations make investments, mission-related investing (also called impact investing) is measured not only by financial returns, but also by social and/or environmental change.

ECGRA carefully vetted the practices of the following financing institutions to ensure our funds would have the most meaningful, long-term impact for Erie, Pa., businesses and residents. If you are a current or prospective entrepreneur, please contact these Ignite Erie™ partners directly to learn how they can help you spur the regional economy and fortify our community.

To learn more about ECGRA’s $6 million invested in small business development and Ignite Erie since 2011, read our cumulative funding report.

Ben Franklin Technology Center

A multi-million dollar partnership launched in 2011 between the Erie County Gaming Revenue Authority and Ben Franklin Technology Partners, the Erie Innovation Fund makes investments in Erie County’s tech-based startups, as well as small manufacturers with less than 500 employees, that have a concrete plan for the development and commercialization of a new, innovative product or process. 

CONTACT: Liz Wilson   ::  814-898-6541 :: :: @LizBenFrankCNP

Bridgeway Capital

In late 2015, ECGRA awarded $1,000,000 to Bridgeway Capital Inc. to provide Erie enterprises with opportunities for growth. Bridgeway fosters economic revitalization across western Pennsylvania by supporting small business success. Bridgeway will focus ECGRA’s investment into a wide variety of projects ranging from expanding manufacturers to corner stores increasing community access to healthy foods. Whatever the small business opportunity or challenge, Bridgeway has loan products geared for client achievement. To support job growth in Erie County, entrepreneurs may be eligible for loans to:

  • Access working capital
  • Purchase and develop real estate
  • Upgrade equipment and facilities

CONTACT: T.J. King  ::  814-451-1172 :: @Bridgeway_Cap ::

Develop Erie

The Enterprise Development Fund, a fund managed by DevelopErie, is a CDFI-certified investor serving low-income, minority, rural, and female borrowers and underserved geographic areas with lack of access to loans, equity investments, and/or financial services. Through a partnership started in 2011 with ECGRA, the Fund has grown from less than $1,000,000 to more than $6,000,000, including ECGRA’s $500,000 commitment in late 2015. Entrepreneurs can apply for $20,000 to $500,000 loans for:

  • Working capital
  • Machinery and equipment
  • Real estate acquisition, construction, and/or renovations
  • Debt consolidation or bridge financing

Applicants receive free and confidential education, planning, and financial consulting services.
CONTACT: Rebecca Wurst  ::  814-897-2679 ::

Penn Venture Partners

A venture capital firm, Penn Venture Partners  primarily makes impact-type investments that support business and job creation in low and disadvantaged areas of central and northwest Pennsylvania. In late 2015, ECGRA awarded $2,000,000 to Penn Venture Partners to invest in early- and growth-stage opportunities, providing not only much-needed capital, but also operational and business support through the life of the investment. Penn Venture Partners’ investments are most often equity-based for ownership of a company and typically range from $500,000 to $2,000,000.

CONTACT: Bob Graham ::  717-236-2352 

Progressive Fund

In late 2015, ECGRA awarded $1,000,000 to The Progress Fund to provide loans to new and existing small businesses of the tourism and local food industries in Erie County. The Progress Fund finances accommodations, attractions, entertainment, farms, outdoor recreation, restaurants, retail, service business, wine and spirits makers, and other small businesses. Entrepreneurs can apply for loans to:

• Purchase and rehabilitate real estate
• Buy inventory or equipment
• Buy the assets of an existing business
• Provide working capital

CONTACT: David Kahley :: (724) 216-9160 Extension 310