Elijah Craig, LLC

Over one million South Carolinians live in food deserts, or communities without access to fresh, healthy foods. One such neighborhood in Florence was also deemed “blighted” by city officials. Tim Waters, owner of Elijah Craig, LLC and a lifelong resident of the neighborhood, wanted to help his community by bringing a full service grocery store to the area. “I looked around and saw we were surrounded by convenience stores and fast food restaurants, but there wasn’t a place to buy fresh vegetables.”

Tim struggled to secure financing for his project, but refused to give up. He attended a SCCLF loan application workshop, and later he enrolled in Feeding Innovation, a SCCLF program for aspiring entrepreneurs seeking to increase healthy food access in their communities. “The lending team at SCCLF encouraged me, and so I surrounded myself with experts,” says Tim. “I want to be the things this community needs.” His determination to bring the project to market gained support from the City of Florence, which provided Tim with an incentive package as part of their downtown redevelopment strategy, and eventually meant he could secure a $500,000 loan from SCCLF.

The Elijah Craig, LLC Save-A-Lot, which is slated to open in fall 2018, will initially create 20 new jobs for community members, 12 of which will be full time. Soon, families in the North Dargan Street community will finally have the ability to purchase fresh, healthy food in their neighborhood. Further, a neighborhood currently defined by the city as blighted will have a revitalization effort led in part by a lifelong resident with a vision of community change. The greatest impact of this loan is felt by Tim, who said, “This loan has changed the trajectory of my family’s life. We now have something that I can pass to my son, who can pass it to his son, too.”