Today, U.S. Senators Jack Reed and Sheldon Whitehouse joined Lisa Ranglin, Founder, President & CEO of the Rhode Island Black Business Association (RIBBA), along with Providence Mayor Jorge O. Elorza and Neil Steinberg, President and CEO of the Rhode Island Foundation to announce the acquisition of 220 Smith Street to serve as RIBBA’s new headquarters and a co-work space for budding entrepreneurs in the city that are looking to scale up. 

RIBBA’s new building, located around the corner from the State House, will serve as an Equity Business Hub for local small businesses and professionals, offering co-working space and a state-of-the-art training facility for RIBBA members and partners.

RIBBA has received a variety of federal, local, and community partner funding to grow the organization and help advocate for and promote the successful development of Black and minority-owned businesses across the state.

Senator Reed secured a $1 million federal earmark in the fiscal year 2022 appropriations law to help RIBBA expand, deepen, and strengthen its programming, services, and outreach.  Senator Whitehouse secured a $500,000 earmark in that same law to help RIBBA acquire the new headquarters building.  Additionally, the City of Providence is allocating $137,500 in federal American Rescue Plan Act funding to support the initiative.  The Rhode Island Foundation is also providing $137,500 to aid RIBBA’s mission of reaching and supporting Black-owned small businesses and underrepresented and underserved entrepreneurs and helping them thrive and strengthen neighborhoods and communities across the state.

“This is about strategically supporting and empowering Rhode Island’s Black entrepreneurs and startups in a way that expands opportunity and builds successful businesses.  Whether it’s dealing with barriers such as lack of capital investment, or overcoming other hurdles, RIBBA can help new businesses navigate the process and grow from seed to bloom.  It offers business tools, a network, and support system for talented, enterprising entrepreneurs to take their business ideas and ventures to the next level,” said Senator Reed, a senior member of the Appropriations Committee.  “I am pleased to deliver this $1 million earmark to help more aspiring Black entrepreneurs sustainably grow their businesses and strengthen Rhode Island’s economy.  This is a catalyst for entrepreneurship that will lead to stronger, more diverse and resilient economic growth for future generations.”

“I was thrilled to secure $500,000 in federal funding to help make the Rhode Island Black Business Association’s Equity Business Hub a reality,” said Senator Whitehouse.  “From this new Smith Street headquarters, the Rhode Island Black Business Association will now have the space to significantly expand the resources it provides Black entrepreneurs and small business owners.  That additional support will pay dividends for the community through jobs created and business growth.” 

Founded in 2011, the Rhode Island Black Business Association is a non-profit organization dedicated to advancing the business opportunities and vitality of Black-owned and minority businesses in Rhode Island through access to capital, contracting, business development resources, entrepreneur training, business advocacy, meaningful investor services and workforce development. 

“The purchase of these new offices is both an investment in our organization’s future and our community. The hard work and commitment of our staff, board of directors, partners, and members allowed us to make this acquisition from a position of growth and strength,” said Lisa Ranglin, Founder, President & CEO of the Rhode Island Black Business Association. “We are excited about what this means for our members and community.”  

“As evidenced by the findings and recommendations of our Municipal Reparations Commission, we know that building wealth and equity through home and business ownership is essential for closing the racial wealth and equity gap in Providence,” said Mayor Jorge O. Elorza. “The City of Providence is proud to provide these funds to help make this new headquarters and hub possible. I know that RIBBA will advance incredible work in this space, and I thank our federal delegation and the Rhode Island Foundation for their partnership.”

“Minority-owned business are a growing and crucial segment of the state’s business sector. This effort builds upon our long commitment to small business growth and jobs and to equity and inclusion as a key to economic success for all Rhode Islanders,” said Neil D. Steinberg, the Foundation’s president and CEO. “We are proud to join with Senators Reed and Whitehouse, Congressman Cicilline, Mayor Elorza, Keith Stokes and community leaders to celebrate and support Lisa Ranglin and the work of the Rhode Island Black Business Association.”

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