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Hispanicheritage Dnc
• Sep 16, 2020

TD's support of organization has helped make countless lives better

It's been a scary time for Lorena Torres as the owner of Universal Hair Salon in the Adams Morgan section of Washington D.C.

For the past eight years, she's worked tirelessly to build up her business. But with the COVID-19 pandemic first forcing a total shutdown and then restrictions on how many customers can be served at one time, it's been brutal. Now, her business is only back to about 60% of what it once was, with many of her customers having moved and others still reluctant to visit her salon.

Lorena Torres

But she considers herself fortunate to have a partner and friend at the Latino Economic Development Center (LEDC) in Washington DC to help her navigate these tough times. "The LEDC is always open to help; they call me," Lorena said. "They tell me about grants and loans I can apply for and they always listen to me. Thank God for them."

LEDC is an organization that gives Latinos and other underserved communities the skills and financial tools to create a better future. It has many programs focused on starting or expanding small businesses for residents of Washington DC, Maryland, Virginia and Puerto Rico.

Lorena has been working with the organization for two years to learn how to build her business' internet sites to drive more businesses. Now, she has been working with them during this difficult time to find out important information about the Payroll Protection Program (PPP) loans and other options.

TD Charitable Foundation has provided grants to support LEDC's programs to help small businesses since 2010. In May, the bank launched the TD Community Resilience Initiative to help organizations support their clients in the wake of COVID 19, and LEDC received one of these grants.

This grant is aligned to the TD Ready Commitment's area of focus on Financial Security to help people be more confident about their financial future.

“With their commitment to provide guidance and support to one of the most vulnerable communities during this challenging time, LEDC brings the leadership and skills necessary to respond to the needs of the Small Business community," said TD Bank Commercial Market President, Terrence Kenny. "It brings us great pride to continue partnering with organizations of this caliber that continue to provide vital services in the communities in which we live, work and conduct business.”

LEDC is very grateful for TD's support over the past decade.

"TD Bank has been an important partner," said Marla Bilonick LEDC's Executive Director and Chief Executive Officer. "TD is a generous sponsor of our COVID relief work. Without their fast and responsive funding, we would not have had the freedom to be equally responsive with our clients whose needs are ever-changing during the pandemic."

LEDC started as way to help struggling Latino population in Washington DC

The civil unrest in the United States we see today is not new. The LEDC was founded in 1991 after the shooting of a Latino man by police in Washington DC, which led to several days of protests and unrest. In response, a group of bankers, business professionals, and civil rights activists came together to launch LEDC.

The founders of LEDC received seed funding from the District of Columbia’s Office of Business and Economic Development (OBED) to develop an organization that would help low-income Latinos build assets through small business development, homeownership counseling, and tenant organizing.

Today, many of those same issues still exist, but the additional pressures of COVID-19 in 2020 have only added to the burdens as Latinos are among the group's hardest hit by the pandemic.

LEDC has been focused on two areas working with business owners in the wake of COVID-19 - business technical assistance and lending.

With demand for LEDC's services increasing exponentially, the organization has currently prioritized program activities that benefit existing businesses over those focused on assisting entrepreneurs who are seeking to start a company.

In terms of lending, LEDC's number one priority right now is to offer its borrowers alternatives to stay current with their loans (forgiveness, deferments, modifications to the repayment terms, etc.). It is also, helping businesses and borrowers to access local and federal business assistance such as the SBA debt relief program.

LEDC program helped one fitness business owner thrive during pandemic


D. Amaadi Coleman is another client that has benefitted from LEDC during this difficult time. She started her business Fit Tribe Wellness in Baltimore in 2017 to help Black women "unleash their inner warrior" through education and motivation. As the single mother of three, it hasn't been easy.

She applied to attend an LEDC program in 2020 to help women-owned businesses and received a full scholarship. Due to COVID-19, she attended the program online, learning about completing a business plan, marketing and social media, she was able to increase her business, not an easy feat when many gyms were closed.

"The best part was having to repeat your mission statement and vision at the start of every class," she said. "If you don't have it memorized, it doesn't look professional to both investors and clients."

Amaadi is grateful for TD Bank's support of LEDC.

"Without funding, I wouldn't have been able to take this class," she said. "Without this program, I would not have been able to take my business to the next level. I thank TD so much."

**Group photo taken prior to COVID-19 pandemic

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