Newspaper article St Louis Post-Dispatch (MO)

Cdcs Give Businesses a Kick-Start to Success

Newspaper article St Louis Post-Dispatch (MO)

Cdcs Give Businesses a Kick-Start to Success

Article excerpt

Community development corporations, long associated primarily with affordable housing and social services in depressed urban areas, are seeking urban and rural entrepreneurs.

They offer help with development skills, management expertise and financial assistance to nurture fledgling entrepreneurs.

There are currently more than 2,200 community development corporations, or CDCs, according to the Ford Foundation. "They can spend time with new entrepreneurs, giving them basic training, pulling them into financing once they complete a program," said Roland Anglin, deputy director of the Ford Foundation's Community and Resource Development Program. For example, Pittsburgh's North Side Civic Development Council operates a business incubator in a building built in 1829 that was formerly a cotton mill and then a warehouse on the banks of the Allegheny River. Its initial aim was to aid women- and minority-owned businesses and currently has 38 tenants, half of which meet the initial criteria. "We work with home-based businesses in an effort to grow them to move into the incubator," said Emily Buka, president of the council. "We provide a broad range of services, from business support - business plans, writing, networking - to loan packaging and access to public and private capital. We also provide seminar series on advanced management topics." The non-profit groups are also enlisting large corporations in the effort to put more people in business. "The private sector is now seeing inner cities and rural areas as centers of profit, and ultimately that will be the prime guarantor of the relationship," said the Ford Foundation's Anglin. One joint effort by a CDC and private industry is aimed at aiding rural entrepreneurs in economically depressed Edgecombe County in the northeastern corner of North Carolina. The region has lost more than 4,000 jobs because of plant closings in the last two years. The Rocky Mount/Edgecombe Community Development Corp. has linked up with Consolidated Diesel Co. to create an industrial incubator. It aims to raise $1.7 million to buy and convert a 12,000-square-foot former textile mill in Tarboro, N.C., that will house 20 new businesses. Consolidated, a joint venture between Cummins Engine Co. Inc. and farm and construction equipment maker J.I. Case, has a factory nearby that builds 750 diesel engines daily for use in school buses, light trucks and farm equipment. It hopes to place 20 parts and service contracts with companies in the incubator. "There are a lot of capable entrepreneurs in EdgeCombe County - they just need help in infrastructure," said David Quinn, materials manager for Consolidated's plant, which currently draws supplies primarily from Midwestern companies. "Localizing our supply base gives us a business advantage," he said. …

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