People gathered for a ribbon-cutting ceremony Wednesday at the Kingsport office of Southeast Community Capital are reflected in the storefront glass. Erica Yoon photo.
KINGSPORT — When local businessman Rod Monroe needed some financial help and advice two years ago with his business, Southeast Community Capital helped on both counts.
Now, as one of the first Kingsport area entrepreneurs helped by SCC, the owner of F&L Limo & Livery said he’s glad SCC has opened a Kingsport office to serve the Tri-Cities.
“I have been tickled to death with them,” Monroe said of the business analysis and loan money SCC provided to his business, which has a location in Kingsport and one near Tri-Cities Regional Airport. “It’s going to help a lot of people here.”
SCC serves the Tri-Cities with help and support from Tennessee, two area banks and the Kingsport Area Chamber of Commerce.
SCC was founded in 1999 in Oak Ridge, is based in Nashville and previously served the Tri-Cities through its Knoxville office. It began offering services through office space at the Kingsport Office of Small Business Development and Entrepreneurship, in the Kingsport chamber building, about two months ago.
Wednesday, however, Tennessee Economic and Community Development Commissioner Matt Kisber, Kingsport Mayor Dennis Phillips, chamber leaders and area economic developers helped with the grand opening of the new SCC office, 160 Commerce St.
“They help small business owners to procure the funds they need to get started and maintain this business,” Kisber said.
He added that about two-thirds of Tennessee businesses employ fewer than 20 people, and 20 percent employ fewer than five employees.
“For several years we’ve been doing business in the Tri-Cities region out of our Knoxville office,” SCC President Clint Gwin said at Wednesday’s ribbon cutting. “Southeast Community Capital, like many of our clients, is a small business.”
SCC is a statewide not-for-profit community development financial institution that provides loans to small businesses that do not qualify for traditional financing. Green Bank was the first bank in the region to invest in SCC, while Citizens Bank was the first to invest in SCC’s Tennessee Rural Opportunity Fund, which began two years ago.
In addition to offering SCC’s traditional products and services, the Tri-Cities location will also offer loans through the Tennessee Rural Opportunity Fund, part of Gov. Phil Bredesen’s Rural Opportunity Initiative.
That fund is a first-of-its-kind public-private partnership between the state of Tennessee, Tennessee Bankers Association, the association’s member banks and SCC.
SCC is certified by the U.S. Treasury Department as a Community Development Financial Institution. Since it began operations in 1999, SCC has originated more than $29 million in growth capital loans to 300 companies throughout the state. Those companies have created more than 1,050 new jobs with average wages of $15.20 per hour.
Phillips, a former state banking commissioner, said the new office shows SCC doesn’t believe the state ends in Knoxville and emphasizes the cooperation between banks and SCC.
Banks receive tax breaks for investing in SCC.
Headquartered in Nashville, SCC assists entrepreneurs in all 95 counties of Tennessee. For more information about SCC’s products and services in the Tri-Cities region contact Scott Key, SCC assistant fund manager based in the Kingsport office, at 247-4500 or go to www.sccapital.org.