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CTI Environmental Inc.

Southern California Engineering Firm Expands with CDFI Loan

Financial and Social Impact

Expansion of woman- and minority-owned engineering firm—a rarity in STEM fields

January 15, 2020

Robin Thorne is the founder and CEO of CTI Environmental Inc., an engineering and construction consulting firm based in Long Beach, California, that focuses on regulatory compliance for construction companies as well as construction management. Offering environmental, health, and safety solutions tailored to clients’ needs, CTI specializes in hazardous materials assessments and issues related to OSHA compliance.  

When Robin wanted to pursue two important new business opportunities to position her company for expansion, she applied and received approval for a $50,000 loan from Local Initiatives Support Corporation (LISC), a national CDFI. Given the growth potential of CTI, Robin also wanted to hire business planning support to help her craft a long-term strategic plan for the company. 

In 2018, Robin succeeded in winning a contract to perform disaster and response work in the wake of Hurricane Irma, which had devastated Puerto Rico, the Florida Keys, and nearby areas in 2017. She also succeeded in winning a contract with a municipality to sample and assess levels of lead and asbestos, for which CTI needed to purchase new equipment and hire a technical staff person to take on the new business.  

With the loan from LISC, funded by the Wells Fargo Diverse Community Capital program, Robin was able to accomplish all of her goals for the company. She cites the $50,000 loan as giving her the “financial confidence to compete in the larger market” and grow as a company.  

As a minority and female-owned firm, CTI stands out among engineering firms, with women underrepresented as both employees and business owners in science, technology, engineering, and mathematics (STEM) fields. According to the Institute for Women’s Policy Research, “the disparity is especially striking when it comes to women of color, whose businesses are concentrated in service industries and underrepresented in STEM-related fields.”  

The Wells Fargo Diverse Community Capital program is helping LISC to energize a range of minority and women-owned small businesses in the Los Angeles area, while also informing the CDFI’s national efforts to support a wide range of entrepreneurs who are creating quality jobs in local communities.