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President and Chief Executive Officer
HQ Phone:  (404) 375-1813
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3173 Hwy 129 North
The Appalachian Consulting Group trains and consults in health and behavioral health to promote a national workforce of peer specialists who call forth the potential within each individual to self-manage a healthy life with meaning and purpose. ... more.
Chief Executive Officer
Access to Capital for Entrepreneurs
President and Chief Executive Officer
Association for Enterprise Opportunity
Georgia Micro Enterprise Network
Appalachian Regional Commission
National Appalachian Capital Advisory Committee
National Association of Women Business Owners
North Georgia College & State University's BB&T Center for Ethical Business Leadership
North Georgia Technical College
Rotary Club of White County
Treasurer of the Georgia Micro Enterprise Network, Treasurer
Mountain Entrepreneur Support Organization
Georgia Bankers Association
The University of Memphis
University of Tennessee at Martin
About Us | ACG
Grace Fricks is the Chief Executive Officer of ACG who spent most of her early career supporting people with disability in long-term institutional settings to fully integrate into communities of their choice. She was a founder and the first coordinator of the Georgia Unlock the Waiting List Campaign, a coalition of disability organizations with the mission to reduce or eliminate waiting lists for thousands of Georgians with disability who need home and community-based services. She has her MBA from the University of Memphis and in 1997 founded Access to Capital for Entrepreneurs (ACE), a lending non-profit that currently serves 68 Georgia counties including the Atlanta metro area.
Atlanta 5x5: Grace Fricks
Atlanta 5X5 Profile: Grace Fricks Atlanta 5×5 Profile: Grace Fricks Women@TheFrontier and Invest Atlanta have joined forces with The City of Atlanta to create a unique blog series called the Atlanta 5X5. Together, we're compiling our list of the top 5 women Role Models, influencers, and visionaries in the Atlanta area. Today's post celebrates Grace Fricks, a southern-born visionary challenging the status quo and leading small business owners toward financial success. Grace Fricks proves the power of Role Models in our everyday lives. As a kid in Canton, Mississippi, Fricks admired her grandmother-a woman described as a cross between the legendary Joan Crawford and actress Agnes Moorehead (Endora from the television series Bewitched). "When I think about her, she was strong," Fricks says. Like her childhood hero, Fricks lends her voice and experience to those in need. First, in her career as a social worker and now in her encore career as Founder and CEO of Access to Capital for Entrepreneurs, Inc. (ACE), a not-for-profit lending organization that provides microcredit and small business loans for underserved markets. Fricks explains, "I believe everyone who has that drive and desire-that intangible thing-deserves the opportunity to succeed..." Named one of the 100 Most Influential Georgians by Georgia Trend Magazine, and the SBA Georgia District Financial Services Champion of the Year, Fricks spends her days as a fierce Role Model and a proponent for women entrepreneurs around the south. So, how did this visionary leverage her second career to become one of Atlanta's top influencers? Here's what Fricks had to say to Women@TheFrontier about taking first steps, living with grace under fire, and focusing on the future. Taking First Steps Here's the thing about Fricks: if you ask her about her personal life she grows quiet. She would rather discuss (with her thick southern drawl and infectious laugh) the success of her clients or the in-and-outs of business. "I've never been afraid to ask for someone else," she says, "for something outside of myself, which is a typical woman thing." However, Fricks' continues to prove she is anything but typical. With a bachelor's degree from the University of Tennessee at Martin and an MBA from the University of Memphis, Fricks' early career focused on social work. In 1991, she served as President and CEO of The Appalachian Consulting Group (ACG), an organization improving the physical and mental health of individuals with mental illnesses. "I still have the consulting company," Fricks says, "and my husband, Larry does the work." Since its inception, ACG has served to train more than 5,000 peer specialists in 25 states and helped countless people self-manage mental illness. After excelling for two decades in health and social services, Fricks was awarded the Advocate of the Year from the Georgia Governor's Council on Developmental Disabilities. "I thought what kind of trouble can I get into with $50,000." But by 1997, Fricks had a new idea. "I had an interest in this intersection of social mobility and money," she says. "Money is the universal leveler. If you've got money, you can make things happen. This idea-the merger between social work and finance-became the first step toward building ACE, a vehicle for loans for an underserved market of entrepreneurs. A friend who ran the entrepreneurial education program at North Georgia Technical College sparked the idea for ACE. "Here's this small technical college working on entrepreneurship way before it became trendy," Fricks says. Through her connection with the college, she learned many of the graduates possessed the education and dedication to start a business but lacked the finances to succeed. "So, the Appalachian Regional Commission gave us a $50,000 grant for the loan and around $40,000 over two years to pay for setting it up," she says. "I thought what kind of trouble can I get into with $50,000." As Fricks soon discovered, that loan amounted to more than she or anyone else could imagine. Living with Grace Under Fire If Fricks' first step involved creating ACE, her second one required her to learn about finance and loans. A social worker, Fricks knew little about starting a loan business. "Being in rural areas, I was able to garner support from the community," Fricks says. "I went to my personal community banker and told him I want to do this…he set up an Excel spreadsheet and made coupon books. Fricks also contracted a local entrepreneur to help with PR and worked with the technical college to organize the loan committee. "It was a collaborative effort," she says, "and I was just pulling the players together." For Fricks, they arrived with the 2008 recession. Fricks realized she couldn't give up on ACE's mission, though. She refused to hunker down. Instead, she used her superpower to pull the proper players together. They developed a sustainable, yet aggressive plan for the company. "You reach deep down, and whatever you're made of, diversity pulls that out," Fricks says. "We grew almost 400% over the next three years," Fricks says. "We hired former bankers, many who had lost their jobs due to the recession, and they helped with underwriting and we expanded into Atlanta. It changed the course of history for us." Focusing Forward Momentum Today, this CEO is focused on the future-the future of Atlanta, the future of women in entrepreneurship and yes, even the future of Grace. When asked about the future of Atlanta, Fricks responds with enthusiasm. She believes the city will experience continued growth, especially if leaders stay focused on small businesses. "One of the particular things in our industry is neighborhood economics," Fricks says. Like her grandmother, Fricks also dedicates her time to multiple boards and civic initiatives, including the Center for Rural Entrepreneurship, Appalachian Community Capital, and Atlanta Emerging Markets, Inc. (AEMI). But the most recent board she serves on is the Women Entrepreneurship Initiative (WEI), a business incubator for women entrepreneurs launched in partnership by the City of Atlanta and Invest Atlanta. Women in entrepreneurship is a particular area of interest for Fricks, one she and ACE support. In 2013, the company began implementing the Women Investing in Successful Entrepreneurs (WISE) program through the Clinton Global Initiative America (CGI America). The loan program provides access to capital, business education, and advisory services focused on women starting or expanding businesses in Georgia. The numbers reflect Fricks' commitment to the program. ACE has secured 70 loans totaling more than $4.4 million to 73 women entrepreneurs, many of them with low-to-moderate incomes and minorities. Finally, we ask her the hard question: what's next for the future of Grace? Fricks becomes still and ponders the question for a moment. "My purpose is to empower others to fulfill their dreams," she says, smiling. Pingback: Three more things to know about Grace Fricks
Fricks founded Access to Capital for Entrepreneurs (ACE) in 1997 and began lending services in 1999.Named as one of the 100 Most Influential Georgians Read More
Grace Fricks PRESIDENT AND CEO, ACCESS TO CAPITAL FOR ENTREPRENEURS (ACE)
President and CEO
Virginia Microenterprise Network - 2011 Conference Presenters
Grace Fricks, President Access to Capital for Entrepreneurs (ACE)
Access to Capital for Entrepreneurs, President and CEO, Grace Fricks, MBA (1997 â€" Present) Ms. Fricks founded ACE in 1997 and began the microlending service in 2000. She currently serves on the national Appalachian Capital Advisory Committee of the Appalachian Regional Commission (ARC), is a past member of the board of directors of the national trade association, Association for Enterprise Opportunity, (AEO) and is past treasurer of Georgia Microenterprise Network (GMEN). Ms. Fricks, a small business owner for over 15 years, is a former board member of the National Association of Women Business Owners, Atlanta chapter. Other community work includes former Board of White County Rotary Club and former Trustee of the Board of North Georgia Technical College. Ms. Fricks was the 2005 recipient of the Founders Award for GMEN.