By RAYCHELLE BALENTIEN

New York City First Lady Chirlane McCray and women entrepreneurs announced Thursday the availability loans of up to $500,000 for low-income minority female entrepreneurs and small business owners.

The loan interest rates are capped at three percent and were available immediately, McCray said in a press conference at the Brooklyn Historical Society.

Deputy Mayor for Strategic Policy Initiatives Richard Buery, told a room of predominantly female entrepreneurs that “women are building the businesses that make this city grow,” and echoed the goals set forth by the mayor’s office to expand the Women/Minorities Business Entrepreneurs program and “double the number business certifications by 2019.”

The news comes in the wake of President Trump’s budget proposal to pull federal funds from programs that promote small businesses and minority entrepreneurs like the Minority Business Development Agency.

“If you don’t have the access to capital, it’s very difficult to grow your business to the next level,” said Rodneyse Bichotte, Chairwoman of the Oversight of Minority and Women-Owned Business Enterprises.  “Ninety percent of sole proprietors are women owned businesses.”

The audience included enthusiastic owners of various types of businesses throughout the city. Jen Portland, founder of Excel RainMan, a spread-sheeting business, who said she “really needs to attend more events like this,” to continue to network and learn of the opportunities available because she expects to move her business out of her home by next year and said she wanted to invest in an independent workspace.

“This is the best place in the world to be a female entrepreneur,” said moderator and panelist, Valentina Zarya, Associate Editor for the Most Powerful Women channel at Fortune Magazine, who is from a “family of immigrants.”

Gregg Bishop, Commissioner of the city Department of Small Business Services said that the event was held in honor of Women’s History month, and pledged that because these businesses are strengthening the economy and the impact of women entrepreneurs in New York City brings in $50 billion annually, “we aim to help small businesses start, thrive and grow here.”

The event featured a panel of heavy hitter female business owners who shared their journeys to success and spread awareness of the services offered by the Women’s/Minority Business Entrepreneurs program.  They held open sessions for certification and contracting as well as connecting business owners with mentors from the program.