(L to R) Mark Pinsky, OFN; Debra Schwartz, MacArthur Foundation; Grace Fricks, ACE; Jon Campbell, Wells Fargo
"Georgia Green Loans is an innovative collaboration on many levels," ACE CEO, Grace Fricks said. "Staff, board, advisory council, partners and funders have all contributed to the program's growth and success." Fricks accepted the award, which came with a $25,000 gift, at the Opportunity Finance Network annual conference in San Francisco on November 3, 2010.
In 2009, ACE launched Georgia Green Loans, which provides capital to businesses that provide an eco-friendly product or service or that wish to operate more sustainably. In its first year of operation, Georgia Green Loans provided $377,756 to 16 businesses, including a green architect, a solar installation operation and a manufacturer of organic cotton baby goods as well as alternative transport, composting, and water pollution prevention businesses. Environmental metrics gathered include reduction in energy usage, materials removed from the waste stream, water use reduction, toxins eliminated and renewable energy generated.
By boldly stating a commitment to sustainability, ACE has attracted new partnerships and funding including a competitive $700,000 grant from the Georgia Environmental Finance Authority and an SBA PRIME grant to create the national Academy of Green Microenterprise Development, and SBA Microloan Program financing to support a joint effort among ACE and two other lenders to provide green loans in every Georgia County.