Launched in Partnership with the Department of Small Business Services, Fund Promotes Equity and Economic Growth During a Time of Rapid Expansion for the Cannabis Industry in New York City
Builds on Mayor Adams’ Commitment to Promote the Growth of an Equitable Cannabis Industry
NEW YORK, NY—Today, New York City Economic Development Corporation (NYCEDC) released a request for proposal (RFP) seeking a fund administrator and other lenders to launch the Cannabis NYC Loan Fund. Conceptualized in partnership with the NYC Department of Small Business Services (SBS), the fund will promote the development of an equitable cannabis industry in New York City by providing flexible capital at below-market rates to cannabis businesses owned and operated by social and economic equity applicants who have been awarded licenses to operate in New York City. NYCEDC is targeting a total fund size between $20 and $30 million, inclusive of its $8 million contribution, with additional dollars being raised from private lenders. The ultimate fund size will depend on private lenders’ responses to the RFP.
“Legalizing cannabis brought great promise of progress towards social and economic equity, but we cannot sit on our hands while illegal smoke shops crowd out the New Yorkers and communities who were disproportionately harmed by the ‘War on Drugs’ — now that they have an opportunity for justice,” said New York City Mayor Eric Adams. “The Cannabis NYC Loan Fund will help repair past harms by creating new opportunities and growing our city’s economy. With this new tool, our city’s budding industry is on a path towards equity, sustainability, and shared prosperity for all New Yorkers, particularly those most directly impacted by the decades of prohibition.”
“To create a more equitable economy, we need to make investments that help achieve this important goal for every industry we are growing in the city,” said Deputy Mayor for Housing, Economic Development and Workforce Maria Torres-Springer. “With the Cannabis NYC Loan Fund, that is exactly what the City of New York is doing, and we are excited to partner with others who want to join us in investing in an equitable cannabis industry that creates jobs, grows businesses, and creates greater prosperity in the process.”
“Thanks to Mayor Adams’ leadership, NYCEDC is introducing an important tool to make the cannabis industry more accessible and equitable through low-cost financing,” said NYCEDC President & CEO Andrew Kimball. “The Cannabis NYC Loan Fund will help cement New York City as a trailblazer in equitable cannabis industry investments. This fund is committed to boosting an emerging industry while also uplifting underrepresented New Yorkers, particularly those unfairly impacted by antiquated cannabis policy. We look forward to working alongside our partners in the public and private sector to continue creating a vibrant, inclusive, and globally competitive economy for all New Yorkers.”
“The Cannabis NYC Loan Fund is an important step in making sure that the City's cannabis entrepreneurs have access to the capital they need to thrive, and to cement New York City's place as the cannabis industry capital of the world,” said NYC Department of Small Business Services Commissioner Kevin D. Kim. “By focusing on those businesses run by social and economic equity applicants, the Loan Fund will not only grow our businesses but help to address the inequality created by decades of misguided cannabis policy.”
“I am thrilled to partner with EDC to launch the Cannabis NYC Loan Fund,” said Founding Director of Cannabis NYC Dasheeda Dawson. “Our efforts here address one of the biggest barriers to success facing cannabis entrepreneurs by providing access to much needed financing that has been sorely lacking. I’m also incredibly proud of our city for establishing this Loan Fund in record time, less than a year from the launch of the Cannabis NYC initiative.”
This fund builds on the Adams administration’s commitment to promote the growth of an equitable cannabis industry in New York City, in concert with state partners. In August 2022, Mayor Eric Adams and SBS launched Cannabis NYC, a first-of-its-kind initiative and developing interagency hub of citywide resources and services for New Yorkers looking to participate in the legal cannabis market. Loans provided through the fund will support borrower’s start-up and ongoing operating expenses and will be coupled with technical assistance, to increase the likelihood of borrower success. Leveraging existing resources within SBS along with industry expertise, Cannabis NYC will manage the development of a technical assistance program for approved borrowers.
“Today’s announcement brings us one step closer to ensuring our new cannabis market will truly be restorative with an emphasis on empowering those once disfranchised to now have an opportunity to join this booming market,” said Bronx Borough President Vanessa L. Gibson. “The Cannabis NYC Loan Fund has the potential to be a major game-changer by providing critical capital to entrepreneurs and small business owners who otherwise would not have an opportunity to participate in this market and infusing them with resources for their businesses to have longevity in our city. I want to thank the New York City Economic Development Corporation for their work on this initiative and commitment to fairness and equity.”
“The Cannabis NYC Loan Fund will provide an important boost to the emerging cannabis industry by focusing on the New Yorkers that have been most impacted by cannabis criminalization and the war on drugs,” said Manhattan Borough President Mark Levine. “This fund will bridge applicants’ ability to access capital and get their business off the ground, and I look forward to the partnerships that will emerge to invest in an equitable cannabis industry.”
“The Cannabis NYC Loan Fund will deliver much-needed start-up financing to those who have been hurt by cannabis criminalization and are now seeking to start legal cannabis businesses,” said Queens Borough President Donovan Richards Jr. “These individuals often have trouble securing financing though traditional means. Loans from this new fund will help them overcome this financing gap and enable them to participate in an equitable cannabis industry that benefits underrepresented and underserved communities.”
“As our city ushers in legalized cannabis, we need to make sure Black and Latinx people who have been disproportionately criminalized in the war of drugs are centered in reaping the benefits of the industry,” said Brooklyn Borough President Antonio Reynoso. “Bringing in a new economy, we have the opportunity to make right to the communities of color who have been unfairly targeted by racist policies through taking down barriers to enter the field and letting those who have been most affected by the industry be the first to enjoy the fruits of the profitable cannabis industry. Thank you to NYCEDC for creating the Cannabis NYC Loan Fund and I look forward to working with Mayor Adams to continue to bring the benefits of cannabis to Black and Latinx communities.”
“The NYC Cannabis Loan Fund is a wonderful opportunity to provide communities and individuals that have been negatively affected by the war on drugs with a chance to jumpstart their businesses and climb the socio-economic ladder,” said Diana Ayala, Deputy Speaker of the New York City Council. “As we enter the RFP stage of this program, I am hopeful that we will see a diverse range of applicants representing various backgrounds and neighborhoods within the city. By embracing inclusivity and supporting those who have historically faced systemic barriers, we can truly address the injustices of the past and pave the way for a more equitable and prosperous future. The NYC Cannabis Loan Fund has the potential to not only stimulate economic growth but also foster social empowerment, creating a positive ripple effect throughout our communities. Together, we can build a thriving cannabis industry that reflects the diversity and resilience of New York City.”
“After decades of racist enforcement of drug laws destroying the lives of Black and brown New Yorkers for victimless participation in the cannabis trade, it is vital that we prioritize those same communities in the burgeoning legal cannabis sector,” said Council Member Tiffany Cabán. “Access to capital is extremely difficult to obtain, for people who don't already enjoy it, which is why programs like this are so important. Without this loan fund, we risk reinforcing the inequalities that already exist. With the loan fund, we stand a chance of undoing them.”
“Creating an equitable process has been the most important part of New York City’s cannabis industry. The Cannabis NYC Loan Fund shows that our city is committed to making sure those who have been disproportionately impacted by the historic cannabis prohibition, as well as other marginalized groups, will have the necessary resources to be part of this growing industry,” said Council Member Amanda Farías. “I would like to thank Mayor Adams, NYCEDC, and SBS for turning conversations about equity into action. I look forward to working together to make our cannabis industry as equitable as possible and a model for the rest of the country.”
“In light of the rapid expansion of the cannabis industry, the Cannabis NYC Loan Fund can be powerful force for equity and economic growth in communities hardest hit by the drug war. This Fund will help deliver on New York’s commitment to dismantling the injustices of the racist drug war that disproportionately incarcerated Black and brown New Yorkers. We welcome this initiative and will work with both the City and our district partners to ensure investments benefit social and economic equity applicants,” said Council Member Sandy Nurse.
“The legalization of cannabis has always been an equity issue for me, and the Cannabis NYC Loan Fund is a small step to addressing the historic injustices of the war on drugs. I look forward to working with NYCEDC to make sure the legal industry thrives, uplifts, and is equitable to communities of colors who have been negatively impacted in the past.” said Council Member Nantasha Williams.
NYCEDC will partly capitalize the Cannabis NYC Loan Fund as a subordinated lender, and is seeking additional partners, via the RFP, to help complete the fund rollout. More specifically, NYCEDC is seeking additional lenders, who will lend with NYCEDC, as well as a loan fund administrator that will source, structure, close and monitor loans to the cannabis businesses borrowing monies. NYCEDC’s objective in partnering with others is to leverage additional private capital and to maximize the reach and impact of the fund that is created.
Social and economic equity applicants include individuals who have lived in communities disproportionally impacted by cannabis prohibition and other underrepresented groups including minority and women owned businesses, distressed farmers, and service-disabled veteran-owned businesses. The capital and associated programming will support social and economic equity applicants at a critical moment in business and industry development.
The RFP opened on July 17, 2023, and will remain open through September 7, 2023. Additionally, NYCEDC will be hosting an in-person and virtual info session for interested lenders and fund administrators on August 3, 2023.
The RFP can be found HERE.
New York City Economic Development Corporation is a mission-driven, nonprofit organization that works for a vibrant, inclusive, and globally competitive economy for all New Yorkers. We take a comprehensive approach, through four main strategies: strengthen confidence in NYC as a great place to do business; grow innovative sectors with a focus on equity; build neighborhoods as places to live, learn, work, and play; and deliver sustainable infrastructure for communities and the city's future economy. To learn more about what we do, visit us on Facebook, Twitter, LinkedIn, and Instagram.
About Cannabis NYC (CNYC)
The NYC Department of Small Business Services (SBS) launched Cannabis NYC to make our city the global leader for cannabis industry excellence in education and equity across business, science, and culture, and is reaching this goal by actively creating an interagency hub of free resources and services for all New Yorkers interested in the cannabis industry. Through strategic outreach, public engagement, business services, and advocacy efforts, Cannabis NYC will support the creation of good jobs, successful small businesses, and sustainable economic opportunity to address historic harms of past cannabis prohibition. To stay connected, visit nyc.gov/cannabis and sign up for updates here.
About the Department of Small Business Services (SBS)
SBS helps unlock economic potential and create economic security for all New Yorkers by connecting New Yorkers to good jobs, creating stronger businesses, and building vibrant neighborhoods across the five boroughs. For more information, visit nyc.gov/sbs, call 311, and follow us on Facebook, Twitter, and Instagram.