The Innovate Fund Provides $15 Million Financing for HBCU Claflin University

ORANGEBURG, S.C., Feb. 23, 2022 /PRNewswire/ — Claflin University will soon break ground on construction of a three-story activity center, which will be made available to the Orangeburg community, because of investment from The Innovate Fund. The Innovate Fund, a New Markets Tax Credits (NMTC) Community Development Entity, provided $15 million, part of a larger $18.5 million financing package, to assist in the construction of the 82,000 SF center. The project, located in a Persistent Poverty County with a poverty rate of 29 percent, will feature classrooms, student life/ learning space, meeting space, an event center, food court, and a movie theater.

Claflin VP for Fiscal Affairs Tijuana Hudson estimates that in addition to serving its student body, more than 3,000 community members will take part in activities provided by the center. "Claflin University, the oldest HBCU in the state of South Carolina, has determined that a Student Activity and Community Center within the heart of campus where the community and students meet generates the best opportunity to impact multiple areas of focus and furthers the Universitys desire to blend the University and community together," Hudson said.

The project will focus on economic inclusion, equity and racial justice, partnerships with Orangeburg-Calhoun Technical College, and other workforce development initiatives, in this rural area with a 20.8 percent unemployment rate.

The Innovate Fund partnered with South Carolina Community Loan Fund (SCCLF) to make the transaction possible. Brendan Buttimer, the Upstate Community Development Loan Officer for SCCLF and NMTC Advisory Board member for The Innovate Fund said: "The Claflin University Student Activity and Community Center will have tremendous impact on this non-metro county. We were pleased to participate in the deal by providing additional allocation, and we always look forward to opportunities to partner with The Innovate Fund."

The Innovate Fund would like to extend a special thank-you to Sen. Lindsey Graham, Sen. Tim Scott and U.S. Rep. William Timmons for their support of the NMTC program. Additionally, without the support of Wells Fargo and the South Carolina Community Loan Fund, The Innovate Funds investment would not have been possible.

About The Innovate Fund
The Innovate Fund (TIF) and its affiliates are designated Community Development Entities under the provisions of the CDFI Fund, which since their inception have been awarded $327 million in allocation of New Markets Tax Credits. TIF’s mission is to provide investment capital for operating businesses and real estate development projects in low-income communities across Tennessee, Georgia, North Carolina, and South Carolina. The Innovate Funds partners are the Greenville Local Development Corporation and Tax Advantage Group by Cherry Bekaert.

About Greenville Local Development Corporation 
Founded in 1979, Greenville Local Development Corporation (GLDC), a 501(c)(3) non-profit, was established by a group of committed community and business leaders in Greenville, S.C., to address obstacles faced by businesses and community-based organizations in obtaining conventional financing. Since inception, GLDC has been working to provide financial assistance, real estate development coordination, and strategic guidance for economic development projects and business expansions.

About Tax Advantage Group by Cherry Bekaert 
Headquartered in Richmond, Va., Tax Advantage Group by Chery Bekaert (TAG) is one of the country’s most successful consulting firms specializing in New Markets Tax Credits, helping nonprofit and for-profit organizations access capital and transform communities. Since 2004, TAG has played an instrumental role in securing funding for more than $1.4 billion for community projects across the United States.

For More Information:
Emma Wyatt, The Innovate Fund Program Manager

SOURCE The Innovate Fund