Program provides small-town creatives with support and resources to achieve business stability
 
The Alliance for Creative Rural Economies (ACRE), a program of Bridgeway Capital’s Creative Business Accelerator (CBA), has partnered with Wheeling Heritage and the Regional Economic Development Partnership (RED) to launch a new cohort in Wheeling, West Virginia. The program aims to bring creativity-driven economic development to rural communities by helping artists, makers, designers and craftspeople unlock the power of their practice to achieve creative fulfillment, financial resilience and social impact in regional communities.
 
“Wheeling Heritage is very excited to partner with Bridgeway Capital in bringing the ACRE program to Wheeling,” said Betsy Sweeny, Director of Heritage Programming at Wheeling Heritage. “The goal of our small business and entrepreneurship programming is to support individuals in every phase of their development. The ACRE program fills a critical gap, specifically for those interested in the creative economy, and empowers them to scale their business through resources and connections to capital.” 
 
Bridgeway’s CBA partnered with Touchstone Center for Craft and JARI, a Johnstown, Pa.-based CDFI, to create ACRE earlier this year. ACRE Johnstown supported 10 artists over one year through cohort gatherings and network events, free one-on-one business coaching, group workshops on creative business development topics and much more. Similarly, ACRE Wheeling will meet creatives where they are in their journey as entrepreneurs and offer multiple levels of support to achieve business stability.
 
“Wheeling is an affordable, beautiful and supportive place to start and grow a creative enterprise,” said Katie Johnson, Director of the Creative Business Accelerator at Bridgeway Capital. “The creative economy of Wheeling is growing, and we look forward to working with new partners and creative businesses to help revitalize this special place along the Ohio River.”
 
Fifteen spots are available for creative business owners in or around the Wheeling area. Applicants must be 18 or older with at least one year of experience operating a creative business. To learn more about ACRE and complete an application, visit acrepartners.org. The application window closes Jan. 10, 2023, and cohort members will be contacted after Jan. 18.
 
Creative business owners interested in becoming an ACRE Wheeling cohort member can also attend an in-person event at Wheeling Heritage from 5:30 to 7:30 p.m. on Dec. 20. Light refreshments will be provided.
 
 
About Bridgeway Capital
Bridgeway Capital is a mission-driven lender, a nonprofit alternative to banks that lends to small businesses, nonprofits and real estate projects that have a positive community impact. As a Community Development Financial institution (CDFI), Bridgeway is certified by the U.S. Treasury. Since 1990, Bridgeway has invested more than $250 million in communities across the region, with over 90% of the funding provided to low-income communities. As a social impact investor, Bridgeway focuses on equitable economic growth in underserved areas by providing impact-driven lending and programs to grow businesses and revitalize places. For more information, visit www.bridgewaycapital.org.
 
About Wheeling Heritage:
Wheeling Heritage is a catalyst for the revitalization of Wheeling. Through historic preservation, community development, and the arts, we help to tell Wheeling’s story and shape its future. We seek to improve the quality of life in Wheeling by preserving and investing in our city, collaborating with others, and engaging the citizens of Wheeling in our work.
 
About RED:
Regional Economic Development Partnership (RED) is a private, nonprofit development corporation that serves Ohio, Marshall and Wetzel Counties in the Northern Panhandle of West Virginia, with emphasis on creating jobs and stimulating the local economy through assisting with local business expansion, recruiting new business investment, and encouraging small business development through entrepreneurial activity. RED also is active in the SBA 504 program and offers financial assistance through various state and local loan programs. RED was established as Ohio Valley Industrial Corporation in 1926, and incorporated as OVIBDC in 1961.

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