Three HC community development financial institutions will receive nearly $ 3 million in grants through Wells Fargo’s Open for Business program.
The $ 420 million National Small Business Stimulus Program, launched using interest earned by Wells Fargo from Paycheck Protection Program loans, aims to help diverse and minority-owned businesses recover from the COVID-19 pandemic.
The South Carolina Community Loan Fund, which has offices in Columbia, Charleston and Spartanburg, will receive $ 1 million to distribute to small businesses, as will the Greenville-based company CommunityWorks. The CLIMBING Fund, a Charleston-based business development fund, will receive $ 750,000.
“We know that small businesses are the heart of our communities across the United States,” said Justin Hawkins, president of the Wells Fargo regional bank, during the funding announcement today at Coffee by Pieces Co. in Cayce. “They really breathe life into our neighborhoods, making vibrant places to live, work, raise families, and they’re the key to millions of jobs.”
Lindsey Scoma, who owns Piecewise with her husband Stan, received a small business loan of $ 118,000 from the SC Community Loan Fund for their cozy State Street cafe, which opened in 2019.
“We cannot thank them enough for their investment,” said Scoma. “It’s difficult at first. It’s like I used to serve in a restaurant, and everyone wants you to have the experience, but no one wants to be the one giving you the experience. We were very grateful that they met us where we were and saw a lot of potential in us.
Today’s announcement, attended by CDFI officials and Lieutenant Governor Pamela Evette, took place in a new event space adjacent to the cafe which is slated to open soon. Scoma said she had been in talks with the owners of the building about the expansion for a while, “but for a few years we no longer had any responsibility for ourselves, especially because the pandemic started to grow. is produced, ”she said. But with ongoing security protocols requiring more space as part of a commercial pivot that also included opening a restoration arm, “we took the step of faith and here we are, the opening in the next week or so “.
This is the kind of achievement Hawkins hopes Open for Business funding can help facilitate statewide. Having recently opened his own small business in Greer, Hawkins said he now understands firsthand the sacrifices small business owners have to make.
“Your job ranges from CEO to day-to-day janitor,” he said. “It’s hard work, (and) more needed to be done to reach various small business owners, especially those who have been really hit hard by the pandemic.”
Facebook’s September report on the State of the Global Small Businesses, with responses from 35,189 business leaders in 30 countries and territories, found that small businesses run by minorities were more likely to report closures related to the pandemic at 20% to 14%, as well as more likely (44% to 29%) to signal a drop in sales and a reduction in employment (32% to 20%) than other companies. Small businesses run by Hispanics had the highest shutdown rate in the United States at 24%, while businesses run by black people reported a 22% shutdown rate.
Amber Murray is the owner of Fuel Flo, a subscription-based refueling service that provides fuel to customers in their homes or businesses. Serving Orangeburg, Dorchester, Charleston and Berkeley counties, the company received a $ 145,000 small business loan from the SC Community Loan Fund.
“The difficulty in finding funding for this business, especially during the pandemic – it was extremely difficult,” said Murray, who returned from Georgia to her hometown of St. George to start her business. “But they believed in me. I can’t thank them enough for that.
Evette, herself an entrepreneur and founder of the Travelers Rest benefit service company, Quality Business Solutions, said she has invested in small businesses such as Open for Business funds and the Opportunity zone The program created by Senator Tim Scott is crucial in helping underserved rural communities access the capital they need to recover from the pandemic.
“These small businesses are changing lives, families and communities,” said Evette. “These are the people who come together and change their trajectory. We want to make sure that we capitalize. Not only do we now have $ 3 million to offer to various and minority-owned businesses, this follows on from the Opportunity Zone funds. Tim Scott. So we’re really looking to help our rural communities and change the way they look, because we realize that bringing businesses to our rural areas is what changes these communities. ”
Contact Melinda Waldrop at 803-726-7542.