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AZ Governor Katie Hobbs and Mayor Regina Romero AZ Visit AVANZA Empowerment Center

Governor Hobbs and Mayor Romero visited the Tucson IDA and Groundswell Capital to learn more about the ¡AVANZA! Empowerment Fund and hear stories from local small business owners.

TUCSON, Ariz. - The Tucson IDA and Groundswell Capital had the pleasure of hosting Governor Katie Hobbs and Mayor Regina Romero along with many other phenomenal public servants and small businesses at a roundtable last month to learn more about the ¡AVANZA! Empowerment Fund and its impact on the community. During the visit, Tucson IDA's CEO Dre Thompson and Francisca Villegas of the City of Tucson shared how the ¡AVANZA! Empowerment Fund is supporting our small business community with innovative capital. In addressing the systemic challenges small businesses face firsthand, the ¡AVANZA! Empowerment Fund was created for minorities, including women, veterans, and people of color to provide a new capital and coaching resource for Tucson.

As Thompson and Villegas described, the ¡AVANZA! Empowerment Fund is not a typical approach to micro-lending, as the program offers 6 months of executive coaching, assistance from bilingual portfolio managers, and a marketing package to help each small business launch their improved enterprises into further success.

During the visit, small business owners participating in the ¡AVANZA! program detailed their personal stories about starting their own businesses and how significant this new approach to lending is for them in both their personal and financial successes.

Small business owner Rachel Marie Castillo of Rachel Marie Photography voiced, "Having someone believe in me, and now believing in myself," is what ignited the change she wants to see in her business, as she said tearing up.

Owners Eduardo and Gloria Barnett of México Lindo went on to describe how they never imagined a fund such as this one would be created for people like them.

In response to the pioneering work and mission of ¡AVANZA!, the Hobbs Administration established a $5M Revolving Loan Fund for Arizona to drive Main Street resilience, with the City of Tucson committing $1.5M for Tucson.

"Small businesses are the heartbeat of Arizona, and the Tucson Industrial Development Authority is providing critical funds that will allow them to better serve their communities. Thank you to all who shared their stories today, I look forward to continuing this unique partnership so that small businesses across the county and the state can flourish," commented Governor Hobbs.


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