Manhattan City Commissioners considered a request Tuesday to contribute funding for the ELEVATE FUND, a local revolving loan program that provides financial support to community entrepreneurs in a more accessible and equitable way.

The ELEVATE FUND operates through partnership and collaboration between the nonprofit group SPARK, the Manhattan Area Chamber of Commerce and multiple other organizations.

SPARK Executive Director Sarah Siders explained more details about the program.


Chamber of Commerce Director of Economic Development Daryn Soldan also said the program helps address the biggest obstacle new business owners face: access to capital.

      Soldan 1

Soldan said despite its ability to make support more accessible, the ELEVATE FUND is not intending to replace traditional banks.

      Soldan 2

A majority of the board agreed with the program’s mission, but they still voiced some concerns.

Commissioner Usha Reddi noted that the request for funding is specifically from SPARK, something that she is not entirely supportive of.


Additionally, Commissioner John Matta said with other recent funding requests, more information should be provided before making any decisions.


City Manager Ron Fehr said he would provide more information on possible funding sources before the board takes action on the item in the future.

SPARK requested $250,000 from the city to be paid annually for three years.