Alfredo Martel has resigned as chief executive of the Metropolitan Economic Development Association, or Meda, Minnesota's oldest and largest nonprofit financier.

After nearly three years with the organization, Martel decided to pursue new opportunities, Meda said in a statement. Martel, 57, could not be reached for comment Monday.

Dorothy J. Bridges, a Meda board member and retired banker, will become interim CEO.

Under Martel, Meda kept many minority-owned businesses afloat during the coronavirus pandemic with counseling and government-backed loans. Martel put the nonprofit on a path to quadruple its loan portfolio to $125 million over several years and double its capital to $75 million.

Martel also "expanded lending capacity for Meda's clients [and] continued to expand Meda's presence in the Minneapolis and St. Paul community," the organization said.

"He also led important talent and operational-resources improvements, which leave Meda very well poised to continue to fulfill its mission going forward,'' it said.

Bridges retired in 2018 after a long career in banking, including a CEO of City First Bank of D.C. in the nation's capital, CEO of the former Franklin National Bank in Minneapolis and a senior vice president at the Federal Reserve Bank of Minneapolis.

"Meda could not be in better hands,'' Meda board president Craig Veurink said in a statement. "Dorothy Bridges brings a wealth of banking and executive leadership experience to her position as interim CEO."

Bridges, 67, also serves on the board of directors at U.S. Bancorp, the Minneapolis banking giant where she worked early in her career.

Meda also announced that Keven Ambrus, its vice president of finance and IT, would become chief operations officer.

Last year, Meda and partner commercial lenders loaned $65 million to 702 firms owned by people of color. During the pandemic, it has processed 300 federal Paycheck Protection Program loans.

Martel, a native of Puerto Rico who was raised by Cuban-born parents, previously served as an executive at several consumer products companies, including Caribou Coffee and Yum Brands. In 2019, he left his position as chief marketing officer at the Walker Art Center in Minneapolis to join Meda.

Martel was paid $323,590 in 2021, according to the organization's financial filings with regulators.

"Alfredo helped us navigate a lot of things, including COVID-19. He made the decision to move on and we wish him well," board member Sara Idle said.

"Our aspirations for growth continue under Dorothy Bridges and closing the gap for business entrepreneurs of color and wages in the BIPOC community," she said, using the acronym for Black, Indigenous, people of color.

Meda is supported with capital and grants from corporations, foundations, individuals and banks, often precluded by regulatory rules or low returns from fully funding smaller, riskier loans until Meda's customers get the traction to become fully commercially bankable.

"We are sustained in this work by a generous community of supporters," Martel said in an interview last year.

Minority-owned small businesses, including those belonging to immigrants and women, are the fastest-growing component of the startup world. Meda and similar organizations help provide financing when such firms are thinly capitalized or are deemed too risky by banks and other commercial finance providers.