Grace Fricks started ACE out of her house in Cleveland, Ga., in 1997. ''I had a whole other job, but to help my community, I thought, 'What can be so hard about [loaning] $50,000?' '' she said.
She and ACE have since graduated into a real office. The nonprofit has done $6.5 million in loans to clients, ranging from a one-woman housepainter to an organic diaper factory to a local icecream maker.
The lender disbursed 87 loans in 2008.
Two years ago, ACE created a ''green loan'' program that gives companies a better interest rate if they help the environment in some way. ''It was apparent there was going to be a green economy,'' said Fricks. And we said, '' 'we need to make sure our folks can participate in this.' ''
Los Angeles is just one of 10 most affordable cities for doing business, according to a study by PricewaterhouseCoopers and the Partnership for New York City. More
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