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Greenville Housing Fund Launches Upstate Pilot Microloan Program

BB&T invests in program to create new opportunities for low-income and minority-owned microenterprises

GREENVILLE, SC – March 6, 2012 – Greenville Housing Fund (GHF) announced today that it has successfully obtained funding to launch a new Pilot Microloan Program which will be used to grow and sustain local microenterprises. The program will serve microenterprises in target communities, including low-income, minority- and women-owned businesses, which are often unable to obtain financing through conventional loan sources.

GHF, a certified Community Development Financial Institution (CDFI) and local non-profit, will be administering the loan program. BB&T spurred the program’s launch with the initial $75,000 investment, Greenville County Redevelopment Authority (GCRA), the South Carolina Association of Community Development Corporations and the City of Greenville will be combining assistance to create a total loan fund of $150,000 made available to eligible startup or existing microenterprises with 10 or fewer full-time employees. Approximately 86% of all South Carolina businesses are considered to be microenterprises and represent 17% of all employment.

“BB&T’s Greenville CRA Steering Committee was instrumental in providing leadership to respond to the need for micro lending in the community. The committee, which includes the City of Greenville, GCRA, Soteria Community Development Corporation and Greenville Housing Fund, spearheaded the initiative by collaborating resources to strengthen the partnership,” says John Stokes, BB&T Vice President, Community Development Specialist for North Carolina, South Carolina and Tennessee.

The U.S. Small Business Administration reports that nationwide small businesses have generated almost 70% of new job growth in the last two decades and employ over half of the private sector workers. In addition the Association for Enterprise Opportunity (AEO) calculates that if one in three microenterprises added a single employee, the United States would be at full employment. Despite these noteworthy statistics, small business development has stalled due to the tightening of credit markets leaving many business owners unable to secure loans. This situation is particularly evident for loans under $15,000, which is the target amount for the new pilot program.

By supporting the development of start-up and existing microenterprises, the pilot program will provide an economic development tool to help retain and create jobs in low- and moderate-income communities. The overall goal of the program is to help develop small businesses to eventually become bankable. To ensure success and sustainability there are three essential benefits for the program participants:

  • Financial assistance: participating small businesses can receive loans up to $15,000 at favorable financing terms to be used for working capital; purchase of equipment, machinery, or inventory; and the purchase or lease of real estate.
  • Business training: participating small businesses may be required to attend a six-week small business training class offered through Soteria CDC, in addition to completing a business plan.
  • Business coaching: participating small businesses are required to attend up to four hours of one-on-one business coaching offered through the Business Coaching Institute of Visions International.

“The coaching element of this program is a key distinction. While our goal is economic development and job creation, this would not be possible without developing the business owners themselves to systematically grow and sustain their business. We will partner with each of them to ensure that they understand how to take their technical training and put it into practice.” says Bernell King Ingram, Business Coaching Institute, who will be coaching the business owners.

AEO reports that 80% of microenterprises that receive technical assistance are still in business at the five-year milestone, as compared to 50% that fail during this same interval without technical support.

“BB&T’s Community Development model is based on understanding the needs of the community, developing partnerships with community organizations and providing capacity to meet identified needs. We are pleased to support Greenville Housing Fund in addressing the economic development needs in their community and throughout South Carolina” says Sharon Jeffries-Jones, EVP, Director of CRA/Community Development, BB&T.

GHF is seeking experienced business owners who would like to serve as mentors to business owners going through the loan program. Interested business owners may contact GHF by calling 864-235-6331. To learn more about the Pilot Microloan Program visit www.greenvillehousingfund.org.

About BB&T
BB&T is one of the largest financial services holding companies in the U.S. with $174.6 billion in assets and market capitalization of $17.5 billion as of Dec. 31, 2011. Based in Winston-Salem, N.C., the company operates approximately 1,800 financial centers in 12 states and Washington, D.C., and offers a full range of consumer and commercial banking, securities brokerage, asset management, mortgage and insurance products and services. A Fortune 500 company, BB&T is consistently recognized for outstanding client satisfaction by J.D. Power and Associates, the U.S. Small Business Administration, Greenwich Associates and others. More information about BB&T and its full line of products and services is available at www.BBT.com.

About Greenville Housing Fund
GHF is non-profit organization established in 2008 to promote affordable housing and community development as a critical vehicle for fostering stable families and healthy communities in the Upstate of South Carolina. GHF strives to impact the quality of life of local residents and nurture livable communities through our partnerships with individuals and organization to provide affordable housing, education, and employment opportunities. As a certified CDFI, GHF offers a variety of assistance programs including: Mortgage Lending, Down Payment Assistance for first time homebuyers, Bridge Loans to local developers for the production of additional affordable housing, and IDA accounts for people interested in buying their first home, attending college, or starting their own business.