At Bridgeway Capital, we are literally “bridging the way” from entrepreneurial ideas to actual business growth and economic impact.
Started in 1990 as a housing and social service lender, Bridgeway Capital was founded in response to the devastating impact on the economy after the steel industry collapse. The Pittsburgh region alone lost 158,000 manufacturing jobs from 1970-1990, and many younger workers were released into the market to find other employment. Founder and president Mark Peterson knew that accessible capital could bring wealth and healthy competition to the economy, provide opportunities and jobs for many people, and ultimately improve and ignite growth in the region.
“We are always looking for new opportunities, examining the market regularly, and learning how we can best support the needs of western Pennsylvania.”
– Mark Peterson, Bridgeway President and CEO
Originally called CL Fund from its start until 2008, we changed our name to Bridgeway Capital to better reflect who we are as an organization, as well as the strategies we have in place for the future.
Throughout our history, we have applied a blend of entrepreneurial vision, community knowledge and operational expertise to strengthen and help reinvent the employment base of local communities. Here is our story through the years:
1990: Organization was founded under the name Community Loan Fund of Southwestern Pennsylvania (CL Fund).
1991/1992: Started with $2,500 in assets and made four loans.
1994: Focused more strongly on small business growth because of market need and transitioned away from housing services.
1996: Organizations like Bridgeway Capital became supported on a federal level because of their ability to deploy flexible capital in communities of need. The U.S. Treasury Department created the Community Development Financial Institutions Fund (CDFI Fund), and Bridgeway Capital was certified as a CDFI soon afterward.
2003: Organization expanded to include Small Business Administration (SBA) certified development company loans (504) as an SBA intermediary (had already offered SBA microloans).
2004–2008: High growth period. A greater market need and mission awareness helped to double assets under management in only four years.
2008: Changed name to Bridgeway Capital to better reflect mission and work; also established a Business Education Initiative for entrepreneurs to maximize potential success of business. National economic collapse begins.
2009: Banks tighten credit considerably due to recession, and Bridgeway Capital’s flexible financing is needed more than ever. We placed 83 loans for $7.4 million; 43 loans went to entrepreneurs for $1.5 million, of which 52% went to women-owned businesses. Also, 73% of financing went to low-income people.
2010: Our 20th anniversary year! Economy is beginning to rebound, CDFIs are becoming nationally known through various media outlets, and the Kauffman Foundation shares study about entrepreneurs creating the most jobs and businesses during a recession. Mark Peterson wins SBA National Financial Services Champion of the Year award; Bridgeway Capital wins Entrepreneurial Excellence award.
2015: Our 25th anniversary year! The region is experiencing economic growth, but Bridgeway is needed more than ever to ensure that the prosperity reaches chronically underserved communities. We launch Emerging Opportunity Financing to support community-minded real estate projects, and offer Healthy Foods Financing to increase access to fresh produce in the region’s food deserts. In addition, our 7800 Susquehanna Street project in Homewood brings creative entrepreneurs, small manufactures, and workforce development organizations into the area.