President Trump is lifting up American communities that have been left behind by encouraging investment in distressed areas known as “opportunity zones.”
To this end, the U.S. Small Business Administration is taking steps to revitalize central Arkansas through a $500,000 award to the Conductor, an organization that partners with the University of Central Arkansas and Startup Junkie Consulting. The Conductor is now one of 14 SBA Regional Innovation Clusters nationwide.
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Led by Chief Executive Officer Kim Lane, the Conductor will serve as a hub to assemble resources to help small businesses navigate funding, procurement and supply-chain opportunities and to allow them to compete on a larger scale. Launched three years ago, the Conductor will use the SBA funding to expand its footprint to reach 19 opportunity zones in the state, including impoverished and rural areas. This is a project Lane is passionate about.
Already the Conductor is proving to be a force multiplier for small businesses in its community. It has reached nearly 9,000 people since launching. Almost half of the companies it serves are woman-owned and more than a third are minority-owned.
Lane and her team transformed the life of a single mom with four kids who was scraping together change to buy bread. Teneicia Roundtree had a dream to be her own boss. The Conductor connected her with the right counseling, networks and resources to develop her business, TreeHouse Cleaning LLC.
Today, Roundtree’s business is recognized as a finalist in the 2018 Best of the Best for cleaning in Arkansas. She has hired an assistant and is preparing to purchase her first home.
“You were the only person who spoke to me about solutions rather than limitations. And I’m eternally grateful,” Roundtree said about the Conductor and its services.
The SBA’s mission is to power the American dream. By establishing Regional Innovation Clusters, the SBA can make dreams come true while delivering economic growth and job creation to American communities that need them the most.
On average, the median family income in an opportunity zone is 37% below the state median. In the United States, about 8,760 areas have been designated opportunity zones, with 84 of those in Arkansas.
President Trump’s Tax Cuts & Jobs Act is also incentivizing long-term investments in low-income communities by providing capital gains tax relief to investors for new investment in designated opportunity zones. This is expected to spur $100 billion in private capital investment.
Incentivizing investment in low-income communities fosters economic revitalization and job creation and promotes sustainable economic growth across America.
The SBA is answering the call to revitalize hurting communities in central Arkansas and unleash their economic potential by supporting entrepreneurs every single step of the way as they start, grow and thrive. Find out more information on the SBA’s programs and services by visiting SBA.gov.
Justin Crossie is the regional administrator of the U.S. Small Business Administration’s South Central Region, serving Arkansas, Louisiana, New Mexico, Oklahoma and Texas. Follow the region’s Twitter account, @SBASouthCentral.