As I settle into my new role as CEO, I wanted to let you know how excited I am to kick off the year together and how honored we are to have your support. 2018 was a record-breaking year for our organization – having closed the highest dollar amount of loans in our organization’s history – and 2019 is already off to a very busy and exciting start.
The Charleston team moved into our new office earlier this month. This is not only significant because we have a new place to report to work each day – this office building serves as an outward expression of our mission. We promote the importance and impact of our borrowers owning assets in under-invested communities across the state, and are excited to have had the opportunity to invest in an asset of our own in part of the Charleston area that is undergoing revitalization. We look forward to growing alongside our neighbors, and being a permanent resource in the community.
In addition to moving this month, we also released the application for our first Local Entrepreneur Acceleration Program (LEAP) in Orangeburg. LEAP is designed to support diversity in small business ownership across South Carolina by providing minority and women entrepreneurs with the support they need to develop or expand their small businesses. This program is a product of funding we received through Wells Fargo’s Diverse Community Capital program and is our first program focused solely on meeting the needs of diverse entrepreneurs.
We have grown rapidly in recent years, expanding our staff, program areas and geographic footprint, and I see now as the time re-energize around mission, and do everything we can to deepen our impact in the communities we serve. Our commitment to increasing equitable access to capital and opportunity is stronger than ever. We understand that the barriers our borrowers face are rooted in generations of inequity and as we look ahead and seek to deepen our impact, we are committed to being purposeful about implementing programs and policies that help advance equity, diversity, and inclusion. In the coming months, we plan to take a hard look at how we are talking about the structural issues that impact our borrowers, and explore ways to incorporate equitable practices at all levels of our organization.
In an effort to deepen our impact and better reach those populations most in need of our services this year, we have also set out to:
- Increase our lending to borrowers of color, women, and low-income individuals, as well as in persistent poverty counties
- Host our second annual Investing in Community Summit to increase the capacity of entrepreneurs and community development practitioners, and connect them with capital resources across the state
- Serve as advocates for our borrowers and the communities we serve by engaging in policy change efforts that increase capital available for their projects and reduce regulatory barriers to their success, including Opportunity Zones, CRA Reform, and the Community Development Tax Credit
- Explore innovative sources of financing to meet the significant demand that existsfor community development financing
I am honored to lead this incredible organization and look forward to working with our staff, board, and partners, to increase our reach and impact, this year and beyond. Thank you for being with us through this journey and for your dedication to advancing equitable access to capital in South Carolina.
In continued partnership,
Chief Executive Officer