Oct. 15, 2020
Nelson Mullins is representing Invest Newark (in partnership with New Jersey Community Capital) in structuring and developing a first-of-its-kind $100 million community investment fund for Black and Latinx business owners in the Newark area. The fund will aim to tackle and close the racial wealth gap faced by people of color. Newark's Mayor Ras J. Baraka announced the launch of the Newark 40 Acres and a Mule Fund at a press conference on Sept. 28, thanking Nelson Mullins and other corporate partners and initial investors, including AT&T, Shaquille O'Neal, Panasonic, Carlos Medina, New Jersey Community Capital, PSEG, and Popular Bank.
The new investment vehicle aims to combat and reduce social and economic inequalities resulting from systemic racism, as well as put capital directly in the hands of Black and Latinx business owners in Newark. Backed by prominent Black and Latinx investors as well as leading corporate and philanthropic institutions, the fund seeks to raise $100 million in investible capital. The program has so far been promised $2 million and is currently negotiating other investor commitments.
Charlotte partner and Newark native Sabrina Conyers will serve on the Fund’s advisory board, which will be comprised of prominent financial, corporate, and philanthropic leaders who share Mayor Baraka's mission of curing systemic racism with a systemic response. “I am extremely proud of the time my colleagues and I have invested in this groundbreaking initiative in the City of Newark,” Conyers says. “There is no better feeling than to join with like-minded change agents to structure innovative transactions that impact our communities and help to reshape our world.”
Other Nelson Mullins attorneys involved in this matter are Greenville partner and Financial Institutions Practice Group leader Neil Grayson, Orlando partner Richard Coaxum, New York partner Kay Gordon, Greenville associate Jeff Gurney, and Atlanta partner Nekia Hackworth Jones, who brought this opportunity to Nelson Mullins.
“There are vast wealth disparities in our nation, state, and city between white-owned businesses and Black and Latinx-owned businesses, clearly worsened by the pandemic," Mayor Baraka said. "We need to empower our entrepreneurs of color so that they can compete at increasingly higher levels. The Newark 40 Acres and a Mule Fund will bring pride and prosperity to our city as a whole and to our Black and Latinx business community in particular."
The name of the fund comes from one of the earliest Reconstruction promises made to newly freed enslaved persons in 1865 — to provide each emancipated family with 40 acres and a mule at the end of the Civil War.
“We believe that we have created a national model where financial institutions, corporation donors, and local economic development corporations partner to create a holistic investment platform that provides Black and Latinx businesses with access to the business contracts, patient capital, and technical assistance necessary to grow despite the current pandemic and social unrest," said Bernel Hall, CEO of Invest Newark. The initiative will drive economic wealth among Black and Latinx populations in Newark by leveraging invested capital, public subsidies, and public assets to enhance the value of Black and Latinx-focused small businesses and real estate development.
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