Helios Labs, a minority-owned craft cannabis grower located in Broadview, Illinois, has secured the first loan from the Illinois Department of Commerce and Economic Opportunity (DCEO) Cannabis Social Equity Loan Program designated for social equity license holders.
Ambrose Jackson, Chief Executive Officer for Helios Labs, said the loan provides a needed cash infusion at a pivotal time in the project's development. "As a leading social equity cannabis organization, we are happy to be among the first to access these funds," Jackson stated. "With enormous start-up costs, it is vital for all license holders to complete build-outs and begin operations as quickly as possible and move into a revenue-generating model."
Helios Labs received their loan from Good Tree Capital, a Chicago-based financial institution that provides loans and now a digital wallet for cannabis companies to store and use their funds.
Good Tree Capital's Founder, Seke Ballard, said, "We are proud to be working with Helios to both provide them with a loan, but also a digital wallet where they can store their funds and put them to work to grow their business."
The Cannabis Social Equity Loan Program loan program was created to help social equity license holders access capital, which has historically been one of the main barriers to entry. The program launched in the summer of 2021 with the goal of providing low-interest loans to social equity licensees through a partnership with lending institutions.
The DCEO loans required applicants to meet certain conditions, including:
- The applicant must originate from an under-resourced area or one disproportionately impacted by the war on drugs.
- The applicant or a family member must have been directly impacted by police enforcing anti-marijuana laws.
- The applicant hires 51% of employees from distressed neighborhoods negatively affected by the war on drugs.
"Equity has always been at the core of our cannabis legalization process," said Governor JB Pritzker. "But if we want to create a truly equitable cannabis industry in Illinois, we must give our business owners the resources they need to grow."
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