Baltimore Community Lending Unveils Renovation for Business Development & Resource Center with $1 Million Check Presentation 

U.S. Senator Chris Van Hollen, Watchen Bruce, U.S. Senator Ben Cardin, and Jerome Stephens pose with a $1 million check.

U.S. Senator Chris Van Hollen, Watchen Bruce (President & CEO of BCL), U.S. Senator Ben Cardin, and Jerome Stephens (Community Outreach Director for Senator Cardin) pose with a $1 million check.

Baltimore, MD – June 26, 2023 – On Friday, June 23, Baltimore Community Lending (BCL) announced a transformative renovation project that will become its Business Development and Resource Center and office headquarters. The announcement was made at a press conference and $1 million check presentation at the organization’s new headquarters at 309 N. Calvert St., Baltimore, MD 21201.

Speakers included U.S. Senator Ben Cardin and U.S. Senator Chris Van Hollen, as well as BCL clients Bianca Wise, President of Home Helpers Home Care Baltimore and Sekwan Merritt, owner of Lightning Electric. Senator Cardin and Senator Van Hollen, CDFI advocates who worked to secure $1 million in direct federal funding within the fiscal year 2023 omnibus funding legislation to support the Business Development and Resource Center, also presented a check to Watchen Harris Bruce, President & CEO of Baltimore Community Lending.

“Federal investment in mission lenders like Baltimore Community Lending empowers these financial institutions to expand resources in traditionally underserved communities. Lending opportunities for entrepreneurs and small businesses strengthen Baltimore and our entire state’s economy,” said Senator Cardin, Chair of the Senate Small Business and Entrepreneurship Committee. “I’m proud to help deliver this funding and will continue to invest in these institutions as they provide needed support across the small businesses community.”

“Baltimore Community Lending is making this City stronger through their revitalization and community development efforts that span from financing affordable housing to loans for small businesses to one-on-one coaching for entrepreneurs. That’s why we fought for federal funding for BCL’s Business Development and Resource Center, so they can continue to be a positive economic force helping spur equitable growth and opportunity for Baltimore workers and small businesses,” said Senator Van Hollen, Chair of the Senate Appropriations Subcommittee on Financial Services and General Government.

“It takes a village to make the Business Development and Resource Center a reality. The village is the Federal, State, local government and all stakeholders who have come together so we can continue supporting small businesses for years to come,” said Watchen Harris Bruce.

“Starting and growing Lightning Electric has been no easy feat. But Baltimore Community Lending believed in me. They saw beyond my past and my age, and that’s the reason I stand before you today. They have provided invaluable assistance, from helping us with our business plan to guiding us through loan applications and the complexities we face as minorities. Let’s make sure that no dream goes unrealized due to a lack of opportunity. Together, we can build a stronger, more inclusive society,” said Sekwan Merritt.

“I learned a quote a long time ago that states when opportunity meets preparation, the result is success. Baltimore Community Lending supports minority business owners like myself by providing an opportunity to secure capital and through their technical assistance and business development resources. They give us the support we need to reach success,” said Bianca Wise.

Construction on the building will begin on July 1, with occupancy tentatively scheduled for the end of 2023. To receive updates on the progress of the Business Development and Resource Center, please sign up for BCL’s newsletter on their website.


About Baltimore Community Lending

Baltimore Community Lending supports the revitalization and strengthening of underserved communities throughout the Baltimore metro area through innovative and flexible financial assistance designed to promote community development.

Baltimore Community Lending is a Community Development Financial Institution (CDFI) and mission-based lender serving the Baltimore metro area. We’re 100% dedicated to delivering responsible, affordable lending products to help low-income, low-wealth, and other disadvantaged people and communities join the economic mainstream. We’re making loans to real estate developers and small business owners committed to developing underserved neighborhoods.