Neighborhood children, from left, Natalia Johnson, 9, Naviana Everett, 7, Nevaeh Everett, 9 andMaliaha Friar, 11 sort through pieces of tiles for a mosaic mural on the side of the Community Loan Fund building at 255 Orange Street on Saturday, July 16, 2016, in Albany, N.Y. The mural will be unveiled at 5:30 p.m. Friday near Sheridan Hollow Commons. (John Carl D'Annibale / Times Union) (John Carl D'Annibale / Times Union)
ALBANY -- The Community Loan Fund of the Capital Region is about to embark on a $12 million expansion that will provide new offices, retail storefronts, and 31 affordable housing units in a building that will front Clinton Avenue.
It also will feature a drop-in day care program for children while parents attend training classes or other activities.
The Community Loan Fund operates programs at its existing incubator at 255 Orange St. for would-be entrepreneurs that provide training in various business skills. It offers a program in conjunction with the School of Business at the College of Saint Rose to equip entrepreneurs with accounting, legal, marketing and other skills as they prepare to launch their own businesses.
The new building, behind the Orange Street incubator, will expand available space for startups as well as providing four retail storefronts facing Clinton Avenue, a main thoroughfare in Albany, and the affordable housing units. The addition, at nearly 47,000 square feet, will be considerably larger than the existing 10,000-square-foot Orange Street building.
Groundbreaking for the project is set for autumn, said Linda MacFarlane, the executive director, with the project to be completed over a two-year period.
"We are looking to incorporate as many women and minority-owned businesses as possible," as the project proceeds, she said last week. Businesses can submit their contact information and will be notified when a formal bidding process gets under way.
The new building also will offer affordable one- and two-bedroom apartments, and is working with Rochester-based Home Leasing on the project. Home Leasing also is renovating 70 historic row houses on Clinton Avenue to create another 210 affordable housing units.
Of the $12 million expansion, $8 million is being invested by Home Leasing on the housing portion, while the Community Loan Fund is spending $4 million on the business-related spaces that include the incubator expansion and the storefronts. It already has received a Regional Economic Development Council grant of $800,000 under a program launched by Gov. Andrew Cuomo.
Drop-in Day care will meet a critical need. "Adding a quality drop-in day care to the facility will take Loan Fund services one step further, making it possible to help business owners and entrepreneurs find affordable flexible care for their children while they attend classes and receive mentoring," the Loan Fund said in announcing the Clinton Avenue project.The Albany Center for Economic Success operates the incubator program and provides training to minorities, women and low-income individuals who want to start businesses.
While much of the Loan Fund's activity is in Arbor Hill, its reach is much broader. Various lending programs provide startups with working capital. It supported the Pember Museum and Library's renovations to its 110-year-old building in Granville, Washington County, to make it fully accessible.
Incubator graduate The Schenectady Trading Company, meanwhile, opened its retail shop on Union Street. And Joyful Beginnings Early Education Program opened a second location in Waterford with support from the Community Loan Fund.
"The Community Loan Fund has an impressive track record of launching and sustaining minority and women-owned businesses," said MacFarlane, "and we believe this incubator will be a great model for introducing new businesses into distressed areas."