Earlier this year, CLF received an Intermediary Relending Program loan from USDA Rural Development to provide small business loans to rural coastal South Carolina with an emphasis on communities located within the USDA’s StrikeForce area.

The USDA’s StrikeForce for Rural Growth and Opportunity Initiative is part of the federal government’s commitment to growing economies, increasing investments, and creating opportunities in poverty-stricken rural communities. StrikeForce was officially launched in 2010 as a pilot project in persistent poverty areas in rural Arkansas, Georgia, and Mississippi. In 2013, the USDA expanded its program to include 10 additional states, including South Carolina.

The program was expanded into South Carolina in an effort to address the growing challenges facing rural communities in the state. According to the US Department of Agriculture, 47% of South Carolina’s population reside in rural or very rural communities. Poverty rate is 24.7% in rural SC compared to 17.7% in urban areas of the state, and the unemployment rate for rural SC is 12.1% compared to 8.6% for urban SC.

“Through our partnership with USDA Rural Development, we will be able to provide critical financing for small businesses located in rural parts of South Carolina,” states Michelle Mapp, executive director of CLF. “These communities often times struggle to secure financing necessary to establish a new business or expand an existing one. We look forward to partnering with the USDA and local rural communities to create job opportunities and economic prosperity.”

For more information on our community business lending program, please contact Patrick King at patrick@sccommunityloanfund.org.