Watchen signing landscape_Business Resource Development acquired

Baltimore Community Lending Closes On Building, Furthers Plans for Business Development & Resource Center

BALTIMORE, MD. – March 13, 2023 – Last Friday, Baltimore Community Lending (BCL) officially acquired the building that is slated to become its Business Development and Resource Center and office headquarters. Watchen Harris-Bruce, President & CEO of Baltimore Community Lending, signed the closing documents for the purchase of the building at 309 N. Calvert Street…

Tio Gs small business loan revitalized Lexington Market

Small Businesses that Received Loans from Baltimore Community Lending Officially Open at the Revitalized Lexington Market

BALTIMORE, MD. – February 2, 2023 – Nine small businesses that received small business loans from Baltimore Community Lending (BCL) officially opened for business at the newly revitalized Lexington Market at a ribbon-cutting ceremony on Monday. The momentous occasion was marked by speeches by public officials such as Governor Wes Moore and Mayor Brandon Scott,…

Members of The Leadership Class of 2022 celebrate after graduation.

President & CEO of Baltimore Community Lending Graduates from the Leadership 2022

Graduates of The Leadership Class of 2022. Photo courtesy of William Bruce.

BCL To Administer Funds To New Lexington Market Vendors

February 23, 2021

From the Baltimore Business Journal

As construction proceeds on a modern, $40 million rebuild of Baltimore’s historic Lexington Market, its developer is partnering with local institutions to provide loans and business support to the market’s vendors.

The financing for the newly announced Lexington Market Accelerator Fund will come from the University of Maryland, Baltimore, whose graduate campuses surround the iconic public market, as well as the T. Rowe Price Foundation, and potentially other foundations and lenders. The $1 million fund will provide a broad range of loans, from $10,000 to $150,000, with interest rates of 5.25% to 7.25% to vendors.

In addition, loans will come with “technical assistance support” for businesses old and new, provided by the community development financial institution Baltimore Community Lending and the social enterprise-supporting organization Innovation Works.

Seawall Development, which is spearheading the market’s redevelopment, had teased plans for the accelerator last summer while appealing to Baltimore business leaders to help support Lexington Market’s new group of 50 to 60 vendors.

Peter DiPrinzio, food and beverage lead at Seawall, said in a statement Tuesday that the fund “is a first-of-its-kind type of support that provides loan products that many small business owners, especially women and people of color, unfortunately have a hard time accessing at reasonable rates.”

Any financing from the fund will come with “significant tenant construction allowance” for building new stalls, and the money can also be put toward other pre-opening expenses. The assistance comes as Seawall is building a brand new, glass-enclosed market on the site of the now-demolished Arcade building, and amid a mix of excitement about the redevelopment and concerns that legacy vendors — many of them run by minority entrepreneurs — will be left out of the mix.

Baltimore Community Lending has been active in supplying grants and other financing to small businesses throughout the pandemic. The organization has worked with the Baltimore Development Corp. and received hundreds of thousands in grant funding to funnel to local businesses from large banks like Truist and Bank of America.

Baltimore Community Lending will administer the funds to the selected vendors.

Bonnie Crockett, Baltimore Community Lending’s director of small business lending, said in a statement that the “Small Business Lending innovative loan program was intentionally designed around the primary barriers to credit for small businesses in Baltimore City by supporting new and emerging small businesses typically shut out of traditional lending resources.”

Seawall is currently in its second round of accepting vendor applications, due by March 19. A selection panel chose 20businesses in the first round that ended in October and drew more than 160 applications. Twenty to 30 more are due to be chosen this time around.

Vendors have been operating in the East Market building since work on the new two-story, 61,000-square-foot market began last spring. It is still set to debut in early 2022, per today’s announcement.

By Ethan McLeod, Associate Editor, Baltimore Business Journal

BCL Receives Stakeholder Award

Baltimore, MD. February 23, 2021

Baltimore Community Lending (BCL) received the Stakeholder Award from the Greater Baltimore Black Chamber of Commerce during their 15th Anniversary Gala and Annual Meeting this past Saturday. The award is in recognition of the organization’s “support and promotion of Black Businesses in the Baltimore Region and working with the Greater Baltimore Black Chamber of Commerce and its efforts to address systemic racism by creating and sustaining opportunities for Black Business Owners to enrich and empower our community through jobs and economic development.” BCL reduces barriers for Black entrepreneurs by providing loan capital to those in Baltimore City who have no relationship with or are unable to get a loan from a bank, and may not have collateral.

BCL’s President and CEO, Watchen Harris Bruce, accepted the award, saying, “We very much appreciate the recognition and we want to thank you for selecting us. We will continue doing what we do best, which is serving the City of Baltimore with the type of financing they need to meet their business needs as well as to grow and expand their businesses. That is what we are all about – technical assistance, capacity building, and access to finances.” Watch the video of Ms. Bruce’s speech.

Host Kelvin Boston shared that the purpose of the event was to celebrate GBBCC’s 15th anniversary and “highlight the success of the black entrepreneurial spirit of of the Baltimore region and the accomplishments of so many brilliant and hard-working individuals and companies that comprise the chamber.” The entire event recording can be viewed on GBBCC’s YouTube page.

Get Ready Now For Round Two of PPP

Ms. Melissa Badeker
Loan And Marketing Associate, Baltimore Community Lending
[email protected]


Baltimore, MD. January 8, 2021

Baltimore Community Lending (BCL) is strongly encouraging small businesses in Baltimore City to start preparing their Paycheck Protection Program documents now, so they will be near-ready when the US Small Business Administration (SBA) opens the next PPP application window on January 11, 2021. PPP applications will be reviewed on a “first come, first served” basis, so it is critical for businesses to be prepared so they can submit their applications as soon as the window opens. BCL can help you prepare and submit your application.

Here is what we know to date:

  1. The coronavirus stimulus package was signed into law on December 27, 2020.
  2. The SBA Paycheck Protection Program will re-open the week of January 11 for new borrowers and certain existing PPP borrowers
  3. The SBA will accept PPP loan applications only from Community Development Financial Institutions, such as BCL, for at least the first two days.
  4. Businesses can apply for an initial draw of PPP or a second draw of PPP, as long as they meet certain requirements.
  5. The SBA has expanded eligible expenses that can be covered under the loan.
  6. The process to apply for loan forgiveness has been simplified.

Here are actions that you can take to ensure that you are ready:

  1. Consult your accountant or bookkeeper and prepare 2020 financial statements as soon as possible. You will need to demonstrate reduced revenue. If you are unable to prepare financial statements for 2020, be sure that your business’ financial statements for2019 and 2018 are complete and in good order.
  2. Assemble your 2019 and 2020 payroll documents, including payroll ledgers or summary reflecting each employee’s compensation.
  3. Assemble your 2019 tax documents, including IRS Form 941, State Tax Filing Records, Federal Tax Return, 1099-MISC (if independent contractor), IRS Form 1040 Schedule C (if sole proprietor).
  4. Contact Baltimore Community Lending at 443-977-7596 if you have additional questions. We are standing by and ready to help.

Baltimore Community Lending Announces Small Business COVID-19 Relief Grant Awardees

Ms. Melissa Badeker
Loan And Marketing Associate, Baltimore Community Lending
[email protected]


Baltimore, MD. December 30, 2020

Baltimore Community Lending (BCL) is pleased to announce that it has awarded COVID-19 relief grants to 30 small businesses in Baltimore City. Each business received $10,000 thanks to the support of a Truist Cares grant, which is a cooperative effort between Truist Financial Corporation, Truist Foundation, Inc., and Truist Charitable Fund to provide communities, organizations and individuals disaster relief and assistance during the COVID-19 crisis. Many businesses have struggled to stay afloat as operating restrictions have been enacted, and consumers have cut back on spending. These grant funds will allow 30 local businesses to recover lost revenue, retain jobs, pay rent, and cover the costs of materials required to operate during the pandemic.

Of the grantees, 80% are minority-owned, and 83% are women-owned. BCL is committed to supporting these populations that are most likely to face barriers to credit and have the greatest need for small business support. Chardá Watkins, owner of Baltimore Beauty Bubble, said, “We are so fortunate to have received funding from Baltimore Community Lending during these uncertain times. The funds will cover expenses, payroll for employees, and inventory for our guests. We will also be able to pay other local small businesses that stock our retail shelves.”

The grant awardees are:
• Baltimore Beauty Bubble, LLC
• Baltimore Fitness Concepts, LLC
• Benedetto, Inc.
• Breaking Bread, LLC
• Culinary Architecture Partners, LLC
• Diaspora Salon, LLC
• Fashion Spa House, Inc.
• Fran’s Organic Bodycare, LLC
• Ganesh Bhagwan, Inc. (Mount Everest Restaurant)
• Gogos Retread Threads, LLC
• Harford Business Center, LLC
• Higher Ground Transportation Services, Inc.
• Jody Davis J.D., Inc.
• Keller Professional Services, Inc.
• Koko, Inc. (Brown Rice)
• KWJW Distributors, LLC
• The National Great Blacks In Wax Museum, Inc.
• Pinkett’s Assisted Living, LLC
• Prop Prep Properties, LLC
• The Pyatt Group, LLC
• Raslami Global Concepts, LLC
• RCM Productions, LLC
• Sachs Design, LLC
• Say It With a Clown and Balloons
• Silver Queen Café, LLC
• Studio 7 The Salon, LLC
• Tri-Hearts Counseling, LLC
• Vida Don, LLC
• Work Printing And Graphics, Inc.
• YBI African Apparel & Fashions, LLC


About Truist
Truist Financial Corporation is a purpose-driven financial services company committed to inspire and build better lives and communities. With 275 years of combined BB&T and SunTrust history, Truist has leading market share in many high-growth markets in the country. The company offers a wide range of services including retail, small business and commercial banking; asset management; capital markets; commercial real estate; corporate and institutional banking; insurance; mortgage; payments; specialized lending; and wealth management. Headquartered in Charlotte, North Carolina, Truist is the sixth-largest commercial bank in the U.S. with total assets of $499 billion as of September 30, 2020. Truist Bank, Member FDIC. Learn more at

About Truist Foundation
The Truist Foundation is committed to Truist Financial Corporation’s (NYSE: TFC) purpose to inspire and build better lives and communities. Established in 2020, the foundation makes strategic investments in nonprofit organizations to help ensure the communities it serves have more opportunities for a better quality of life. The Truist Foundation’s grants and activities focus on leadership development, economic mobility, thriving communities and educational equity. Learn more at

About Truist Charitable Fund
The Truist Charitable Fund is a donor-advised fund created by Truist and administered by The Winston-Salem Foundation.

Bank of America providing $400K in grants to two Baltimore nonprofits

(From the Baltimore Business Journal)

Ms. Watchen Harris Bruce
President and CEO, Baltimore Community Lending
[email protected]

Baltimore, MD. December 11, 2020

Two Baltimore nonprofit organizations will receive a combined $400,000 in grants from Bank of America at a time when organizations need every dollar they can get.

The Charlotte-based financial giant selected NPower and Baltimore Community Lending as recipients of $200,000 grants through its Neighborhood Builders program. Bank of America (NYSE: BAC) selected the organizations for their work in the Baltimore community addressing issues related to economic mobility.

NPower is a New York-based nonprofit that helps military veterans and young adults in underserved communities launch digital careers. The organization has been working in Baltimore’s east and west sides. Baltimore Community Lending, a community development financial institution, provides loans to small real estate developers and small business owners to support revitalization of underserved Baltimore neighborhoods.

Both organizations have continued to operate during the pandemic.

“NPower and Baltimore Community Lending are critical pillars of our community, helping to advance economic mobility and community sustainability for those in Baltimore that need it most,” Sabina Kelly, Greater Maryland market president for Bank of America, said in a statement.

In addition to the grants, each organization will also receive a year of leadership training for the executive director and an emerging leader, access to a network of peer organizations across the U.S., and the opportunity to access capital to expand their impact.

Bank of America is the largest bank in Greater Baltimore with more than $28.6 billion in local deposits as of June 30, according to the Federal Deposit Insurance Corp. The company has invested more than $260 million in 50 communities through its Neighborhood Builders program since 2004, and partnered with more than 1,300 nonprofits.

In Baltimore, Bank of America has partnered with 27 nonprofits through its invitation-only program, providing $5.4 million in funding.

“As we consider the many challenges our community is facing – from the health and humanitarian crisis brought on by the coronavirus to the need for progress on racial equality and economic opportunity – the Neighborhood Builders program is a relevant and timely initiative to support the communities we serve,” Kelly said.

Executives from NPower and Baltimore Community Lending expressed gratitude for the grants. Kendra Parlack, executive director for NPower Maryland, said in a statement the award will catalyze the organization’s efforts to train and launch careers in technology for more underserved youths and expand programs for military veterans.

“We are grateful for this generous gift, enabling leadership training for our staff — and most importantly, the connection to other organizations in the Neighborhood Builder family across the nation,” Parlock said.

Watchen Bruce, president and CEO of Baltimore Community Lending, said the grant will help the organization scale up its small business lending program.

“This grant means a lot for Baltimore Community Lending because we provide small-to-midsize capital solutions leading to a more diverse and economically balanced Baltimore,” Bruce said. “Through our small business loan fund, our innovative loan program is designed around the primary barriers to credit for small businesses in Baltimore City — especially those that are minority and women owned.”

The latest grants from Bank of America come as the company makes a push to address systemic racism issues in the light of a larger movement sparked by George Floyd’s death earlier this year at the hands of Minneapolis police. Bank of America made a four-year, $1 billion commitment to advance racial equality and economic opportunity.

Last month Bank of America announced it will provide Morgan State University with $1 million as part of a joint effort to help students of color successfully complete the education and training necessary to enter the workforce.

Baltimore Community Lending Launches New Website and Facebook Page

Ms. Watchen Harris Bruce
President and CEO, Baltimore Community Lending
[email protected]

Baltimore, MD. October 19, 2020

Baltimore Community Lending (BCL) announces the launch of its new website and Facebook page on October 19th. As part of a rebranding effort to market itself as the foremost Community Development Financial Institution (CDFI) serving Baltimore City exclusively, and as a premiere entity with two flexible products – real estate and small business – BCL is debuting a new look with new colors, typography, a tweaked logo, and a brand identity guide that coordinates all of its brand marketing standards. Visit to access the new site. Housed on the new site is information about completing applications for loans; staffing, board and advisory boards; career opportunities; product information; community impact; client testimonials; and how to contact the organization.

BCL’s rebranding efforts also include new messaging and a shift toward digital marketing through video promotions. The new website, Facebook page, messaging and digital marketing was created by Baltimore-city based Sahara Communications, a minority & female owned marketing firm certified with the City of Baltimore.

Additional information can be found at

BCL Sponsors and Volunteers at Baltimore Children’s Business Fair

Ms. Bonnie Crockett
Director, Baltimore Business Lending
[email protected]

Baltimore, MD. October 18, 2020

Baltimore Business Lending, the small business division of Baltimore Community Lending (BCL), is honored to support the Baltimore Children’s Business Fair as an Associate Sponsor and by volunteering to judge young entrepreneurs’ entries.  At the virtual fair on October 10, which is open to the public, children entrepreneurs will showcase the product or service, brand, and marketing strategy they have developed. Bonnie Crockett (Baltimore Business Lending Director) and Don Cutwright (Small Business Loan Officer) will judge some of the entries based on originality, business potential, presentation, pitch, commercial, and website.

Additional information about the Baltimore Children’s Business Fair can be found at

Baltimore Community Lending Presents Advisory Board

Ms. Watchen Harris Bruce
President and CEO, Baltimore Community Lending
[email protected]

Baltimore, MD. October 15, 2020

Baltimore Community Lending (BCL) is pleased to present its inaugural Advisory Board, comprised of professionals who are deeply connected to Baltimore through their experience in community development, small business growth, entrepreneurship, banking, and finance. The Advisory Board, created in alignment with the merger of Baltimore Business Lending (formerly a subsidiary of BCL), will provide advice and guidance to BCL’s small business division and promote the growth of the program. The organization is pleased to welcome the following members to its Advisory Board:

  • Watchen Harris Bruce, Chair – President and CEO, Baltimore Community Lending
  • Paul Taylor, Vice Chair – Director, Mayor’s Office of Small, Minority, and Women Business
  • Nichole Battle – Chief Executive Officer, Govans Ecumenical Development
  • David Bramble – Managing Partner, MCB Real Estate LLC
  • Matt Calhoun – Market Manager/Greater Baltimore Market, M&T Bank
  • Stephanie Chin – Assistant Director/Entrepreneurship, Maryland Institute College of Art
  • Randall James – Treasurer and SVP, Howard Bank
  • Gerard Joab – Executive Director, St. Ambrose Housing Aid Center
  • Mary Miller – Senior Fellow, Johns Hopkins University 21st Century Cities Initiative
  • Christopher Rockey – Greater MD Marketing Manager of Community Development Banking, PNC Bank
  • John Walsh – Senior External Advisor, McKinsey and Co.

Advisory Board member and BCL Chair Nichole Battle said, “I am pleased that we have successfully merged Baltimore Business Lending and Baltimore Community Lending.  Baltimore Business Lending has always been considered as an entity that provided an opportunity for BCL to have a greater impact in Baltimore City by addressing the access to capital needs by small businesses. It took 30 years to become the premier organization that we have become.  As we learned during our 30 year anniversary ceremony, BCL and BBL have invested in communities and businesses in Baltimore City where others have not focused on.  Our investment has leveraged millions of dollars that have contributed to making Baltimore City’s small business and real estate market stronger.

Our success did not come over night and it will take years to have the true impact we want to have in the city.  Thanks to our leadership, partners, and volunteers that make up the Baltimore Community Lending board and the Advisory Board, we are, and will continue, to make things happen.  I am extremely proud and grateful to be a member of the Baltimore Community Lending family.  I look forward to the wonderful things we will do with our partners moving forward.”

About Baltimore Community Lending:

With over 30 years’ experience, Baltimore Community Lending (BCL) is a local CDFI that supports the revitalization and strengthening of under-served Baltimore neighborhoods through innovative and flexible financial assistance designed to promote community development. The small business division of BCL addresses the primary barriers to credit by providing flexible loan terms, technical assistance support, and an ecosystem of small business lenders and bankers, while the real estate division works with different types of borrowers and provide financing to develop affordable housing, community facilities, and mixed use developments.

Additional information can be found at

Baltimore Community Lending Announces Merger

Ms. Watchen Harris Bruce
President and CEO, Baltimore Community Lending
[email protected]

Baltimore, MD. October 1, 2020

Baltimore Community Lending (BCL) is pleased to announce the merger of the organization with its subsidiary, Baltimore Business Lending, in order to better serve local real estate developers and small business owners. Since 1989, BCL has provided vital loan capital for small and medium-sized real estate developers who revitalize Baltimore communities. In 2017, the organization created BBL as a subsidiary to address the need for small business economic development to ensure the viability and stability of stressed neighborhoods.

Since it began lending in 2018, BBL provided $1,227,200 in capital to 21 startup and growing businesses that would otherwise be unable to qualify for traditional lending resources. In the same timeframe, BCL invested $16 million into the community and financed 229 units. This tremendous success drove the merger of the two entities into one to effect a stronger impact on communities. The real estate division will work with different types of borrowers and provide financing to develop affordable housing, community facilities, and mixed use developments, while the small business division will address the primary barriers to credit to small businesses in Baltimore City, especially minority and women owned businesses, by providing flexible loan terms, technical assistance support, and an ecosystem of small business lenders and bankers.

“The goal for the merger here is to increase synergies across BCL and BBL brands, teams, and impact. Together, BCL and BBL combined entities will bring great resources to community development in the city of Baltimore. The strategy is to ensure the two business lines are working in concert in an efficient way,” said Watchen Harris Bruce, President and CEO of Baltimore Community Lending.

Bonnie Crockett, Director of Baltimore Business Lending, added, “Merging BBL and BCL will strengthen our small business lending position in the market and will allow us to quickly grow our outreach and portfolio, building on the strength of BCL’s decades of experience and community reputation in the Baltimore market.”

Additional information can be found at