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Department of Housing and Community Development

Neighborhood BusinessWorks Awards $2 Million to City First Enterprises to Support Community Small Business Lending

The Maryland Department of Housing and Community Development is pleased to announce a $2 million commitment to City First Enterprises through the Neighborhood BusinessWorks Loan to Lender program. The funds will support small business lending in communities within the Baltimore-Washington metro area. The program is part of the State Small Business Credit Initiative, through which Maryland is deploying up to $198 million in federal relief.

The Neighborhood BusinessWorks Loan to Lender program awards funds to Community Development Financial Institutions (CDFIs). The CDFI then lends the funds to small businesses in the areas they serve. Funds are primarily targeted to businesses owned and operated by Socially and Economically Disadvantaged Individuals and those classified as Very Small Businesses.

“The Loan to Lender program builds partnerships with proven, community-focused lenders like City First Enterprises to expand access to capital for underserved small businesses and entrepreneurs,” said Secretary Jake Day. “By engaging and empowering these trusted and experienced local lenders, we’re helping create and support an equitable, competitive economy that offers opportunities to all Marylanders.”

City First Enterprises is a nonprofit financial institution founded in Washington, DC in 1993 by local community development leaders aimed at reinvigorating the communities of color damaged by years of discrimination, disinvestment, and redlining. Now serving the greater Washington and Baltimore metropolitan areas, City First seeks to promote social justice through equitable access to capital and technical assistance. The organization recently released its new strategic plan with the stated goal of significantly increasing its business lending volume.

“Our partnership with the Maryland Department of Housing and Community Development offers small business owners a new avenue to access transformative public resources,” said Oswaldo Acosta, Chief Executive Officer of City First Enterprises. “Through this collaboration, we continue to drive the democratization of working capital, leveraging opportunities to nurture the growth of these businesses that form the cornerstone of our economy.”

The Neighborhood BusinessWorks Loan to Lender program is one of Maryland’s nine State Small Business Credit Initiative programs. Initially established by Congress in 2010 to provide loans and investments to underserved small businesses, the initiative received a $10 billion allocation as part of the American Rescue Plan Act during the COVID-19 pandemic. Maryland was awarded a potential allocation of $198 million.

State Small Business Credit Initiative program funds are also administered by the Maryland Department of Commerce, and the Maryland Technology Development Corporation. To learn more, visit

To apply for a loan through City First Enterprises, go to

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