Carolina Foothills FCU Helps Women Entrepreneurs Succeed | 2022-04-08

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Through pandemic disruptions to daily activities and the resulting threat to livelihoods, 132 upstate women entrepreneurs, including 92 women of color, have powered their small businesses forward through to Small Business Administration (SBA) Paycheck Protection Program (PPP) loans guaranteed by Spartanburg. – whose head office is the Carolina Foothills Federal Credit Union.

Nearly half (47.8%) of the 276 PPP loans funded by the credit union since the program’s inception in April 2020 have helped women-owned businesses maintain operations during mandatory limitations. Carolina Foothills has funded loans averaging $16,403 through the COVID-encouraged program, helping borrowers get as little as $310 to face an uncertain future.

This contrasts sharply with the millions that borrowers like Ruth’s Chris Steakhouse ($20 million), the Los Angeles Lakers ($4.6 million), Shake Shack ($10 million) and Potbelly Sandwich Shop ($10 million dollars) would receive of the $790.9 billion issued. by the SBA until May 31, 2021.

For local entrepreneur Latron McDaniel and his partners Maleisha Rice and Stephanie Valentine of Hair Therapy Hair Studio, Carolina Foothills brought hope when they and their options were nearly exhausted. They worked together to secure loans ranging from $4,000 to $7,000 to keep the trio’s business viable during the shutdown and to keep their aspirations alive as members of the Spartanburg business community. In the end, all of their loans in 2020 and 2021 were fully canceled by the SBA, and the salon was back to 75% of its pre-pandemic capacity according to McDaniel.

“When we were approved for PPP, it was a saving grace,” McDaniel said, recalling an emotional discussion between the three about closing the business. Without concessions from the landlord, they owed full rent while adhering to limited staffing and hours, and their savings were depleted. “We wanted to have a business to go back to. We started looking for all kinds of opportunities – PPP, the economic disaster loan, all the options. When I was approved for the PPP loan, it gave me a lot of relief and I was grateful.

The COVID-19 shutdown wasn’t the first setback for McDaniel. Fourteen months earlier, she was part of the 2018-2019 cohort completing the City of Spartanburg Emerge Business Accelerator (now known as Amplify) for aspiring African-American entrepreneurs, and thanks to that, she had drawn up plans to provide the central city with a sophistication, cost-effective venue known as the Palladium Event Center. She put those plans aside when the search for available commercial space proved restrictive and frustrating.

However, McDaniel and her partners weren’t the only ones searching for answers when COVID-19 relief efforts rolled out in late March 2020. When she was inundated with calls from small businesses barred by other institutions , Carolina Foothills first provided a link from its website to a PPP. application portal. Then, staff discovered that most member applicants—many of whom were minorities and women—were not receiving Paycheck Protection Program loans because their relatively small loan amounts and lack of connections with well-known banks were not keen on the short term. process.

“It was obvious that entrepreneurs like Ms. McDaniel were at risk of being left behind, so we were determined to meet their needs,” notes Terri Hendrix, Vice President of Engagement for Carolina Foothills. “We were convinced that if we weren’t able to act quickly and get loans in a timely manner, it would be worse than no loans at all.”

An additional $320 billion in PPP funds was announced on April 24, 2020, with allocations for small lenders and hourly volume limits for large banks, prompting Hendrix and others at Carolina Foothills to work throughout over the weekend to navigate regulatory and technical details, secure SBA permissions, and access and configure their own application portal.

The credit union originally planned to lend up to $500,000 in total to 20 small businesses in the second PPP round at the end of April 2020. In the first week, it got approval for more than 34 loans, working with many candidates on the respect of the format. terms. The requests kept coming in and Carolina Foothills pushed their fundraising goal to $1 million and then to $1.5 million. The funds deployed would eventually reach the credit union’s $2 million cap.

“In the end, our members were amazed and very happy that we repaid their loans as quickly as we did, especially since word had spread of a long lead time by d other SBA lenders. These members have told friends about it, and we’ve also received word-of-mouth recommendations from community partners like the City of Spartanburg and Greenville Human Relations,” notes Hendrix.

McDaniel is one such vocal member, having received personal calls and emails from micro business loan officer Scott Whelchel, branch manager Natasha Perlotte and others sharing encouragement and a word of support. additional when it became available in 2021.

“I’m grateful that there were people who walked us through the process and were very patient with us. If we hadn’t received the money, we probably would have closed our salon,” McDaniel recalls. “It means so much to me to show perseverance to my daughter when we felt no one else was there for us, and it meant a lot to Carolina Foothills to have thought of the small businesses that needed help. . We needed money and they didn’t turn their back on us.

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