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Community Highlights

South Carolina: Highlights From Spartanburg

South Carolina Community Capital Alliance Chair Deborah McKetty presents the organization’s Champion Award to the Federal Reserve Bank of Richmond and Jeanne Milliken Bonds for strategic efforts in community development in the State of South Carolina. 

South Carolina Community Capital Alliance Dives Into Opportunity Zones

Spartanburg, South Carolina, was the site of a working model of community development finance when it hosted the annual South Carolina Community Capital Conference, Transforming Communities. The state network of Community Development Financial Institutions (CDFI) and community development financiers toured the city and its transformative activities in affordable housing and downtown development. The conference was held at a hotel financed using New Markets Tax Credits, a federal program incentivizing business and real estate development in distressed communities. The city has invested more than $4 billion in capital projects since 2000.

Jeanne Milliken Bonds moderates the Opportunity Zones discussion with (Left-Right): Danielle Gibbs, Office of U.S. Senator Tim Scott (S.C.); Brandon Wilkerson, South Carolina Department of Commerce; and Donna Gambrell, Appalachian Community Capital.

Keynote remarks by national leader in financing communities, Martin Eakes, co-founder and CEO of Self-Help Credit Union in North Carolina, focused on the history and evolution of Self-Help. Jeanne Milliken Bonds, senior manager, regional community development, at the Richmond Fed, introduced Martin, reflecting on that history. “Co-founders Martin Eakes and Bonnie Wright grew the credit union from one credit union in Durham to more than 47 branches nationwide,” said Bonds. “Martin is a native North Carolinian who has earned global respect for changing the face of lending. He is an innovator with a persistent passion for deploying strategies that help people and communities achieve new visions for economic success.”

“We started Self-Help Credit Union and a nonprofit loan fund in 1980 with $77 raised through a bake sale organized by a baker that Self-Help assisted. And now we have made over $800 million in loans to entrepreneurs,” explained Eakes.

Bonds moderated a panel discussing Opportunity Zones, featuring Brandon Wilkerson with the South Carolina Department of Commerce and part of the team that advised the governor of South Carolina on elements of a formula to designate census tracts in the state; Donna Gambrell, former director of the CDFI Fund at the U.S. Treasury, and the current president of Appalachian Community Capital; and Danielle Gibbs, staff member in the office of U.S. Senator Tim Scott (S.C.), and one of the authors of the section on Opportunity Zones in The Tax Cuts and Jobs Act of 2017.

Bernie Mazyck, President of SCACED, speaks with Martin Eakes after his remarks.

Deborah McKetty, president and CEO of CommunityWorks in Greenville, South Carolina, and chair of the Federal Reserve Bank of Richmond’s Community Investment Council, presented the Federal Reserve Bank of Richmond and Jeanne Milliken Bonds with a “Champion Award” for informing and influencing policy in South Carolina, most recently related to Opportunity Zones and generally with respect to community capital and investment across the state in low- and moderate-income and underserved communities.

“Our award to the Federal Reserve Bank of Richmond is for being a constant strategic and supportive partner in community development for the state of South Carolina. Jeanne most recently influenced South Carolina’s ability to name Opportunity Zones ahead of many other states, and her persistent efforts to engage the policymakers in [South Carolina] on this important opportunity,” said McKetty.

It is not the first time the Federal Reserve Bank of Richmond has been recognized in South Carolina. In 2017, South Carolina passed legislation establishing a state Earned Income Tax Credit, a topic on which Research Director Kartik Athreya presented before an audience of more than 100 state legislators, business and community leaders. South Carolina leaders recognized the Bank’s research and community development professionals for sharing research, information and identifying potential solutions to community needs.

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