NEW OPPORTUNITY CENTER COMBINES FOUR LOCAL CHARITY HEADQUARTERS, INCLUDES BUSINESS INCUBATOR AND TRAINING FACILITY – LOCAL PARTNERS ANNOUNCED
North Charleston, SC – Monday, February 3, 2020: Four Charleston-area charitable organizations have announced their partnership in creating and operating a new concept for non-profits in North Charleston. It will be called The Opportunity Center. The four non-profit partner agencies have combined experience of 75 years of working in the community economic development field. Increasing H.O.P.E., the Center for Heirs Property Preservation, Homes of Hope and the S.C. Association for Community Economic Development will be using the Opportunity Center not only as their headquarters, but as a training center and a business incubator all under one roof.
Buoyed by a $2.7 million grant awarded from the Economic Development Administration (EDA) to Homes of Hope, Inc. this past May, a former 31,250 square-foot furniture store in North Charleston will soon be renovated and become The Opportunity Center. Coastal Community Foundation (CCF) has partnered with the project as well, with an $800,000 equity investment from CCF’s Place-Based Impact Investing fund. Other partners include Wells Fargo and BB&T who each invested $100,000. The group is currently working on securing an additional local investment and donations of $1 million to fully complete the project.
“Without the support and substantial investment from local partners like Coastal Community Foundation, Wells Fargo and BB&T, we would not have been able to reach this major milestone,” said Dorothea Bernique, the executive director of Increasing H.O.P.E. Financial Training Center.
“We are proud to support the Opportunity Center, which is aligned with our goal to promote access to economic opportunities throughout our region,” said Darrin Goss, President and CEO of Coastal Community Foundation.
The Opportunity Center will be a unique collaborative place impacting low-wealth communities of the Tri-County. This innovative space will provide job training, a business incubator and entrepreneurial shared space, while maintaining offices of local non-profits actively working in community and economic development sector. This business incubator collaborative will provide flexible space for entrepreneurs, solopreneurs and remote employees. Upon its completion, the facility is expected to help create 45 jobs and attract nearly $4 million in private investment.
All four organizations will move their offices and staff to the newly remodeled facility. They will be co-owners of the building, a venture which they hope will make them more financially sustainable. By owning the building and sharing expenses, the organizations involved see the move as an opportunity to not only cut costs, but also to help generate revenue.
“Economic development isn’t just for for-profit institutions,” said Jennie Stephens, CEO of the Center for Heirs Property Preservation, a Charleston-based nonprofit that helps families and individuals protect their inherited land.
“As part of Heir’s Property’s mission, the Center operates a sustainable forestry program that encourages landowners to start their own forestry enterprises. Bringing the organization into a space where career training and business development guidance is available just makes sense”, Stephens said.
“The site for the Opportunity Center was strategically chosen for many reasons,” said Bernie Mazyzk, CEO at the S.C. Association for Community Economic Development, or SCACED. “The facility will be large enough to house multiple organizations and functions, and it’s located in an area that has both demonstrated a need for business development and has seen some success at transitioning into a business corridor.”
“Renovations are set to begin shortly,” said Don Oglesby, the CEO at Homes of Hope. “If all goes as planned, we are targeting a move into the new Opportunity Center later this coming fall.” To find out how you can partner with The Opportunity Center project, contact Bernie Mazyck at 843-579-9855 or Don Oglesby at 864-546-4637.
Homes of Hope: www.homesofhope.org - Increasing Hope: www.increasinghope.org
SCACED: www.scaced.org - Center for Heirs’ Property Preservation: www.heirsproperty.org
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The Center for Heirs’ Property Preservation has been protecting heirs’ property through legal education and direct legal services since 2005. In 2013, the Center began promoting the sustainable use of land through forestry education and services to provide increased economic benefit to low-wealth family land owners. The Center provides legal services and forestry services in Allendale, Bamberg, Beaufort, Berkeley, Charleston, Clarendon, Colleton, Darlington, Dorchester, Florence, Georgetown, Hampton, Horry, Jasper, Marion, Orangeburg, Sumter and Williamsburg counties.
To date, the Center has provided 2,713 persons with free, one-hour “Advice and Counsel” (A&C) with 602 clients receiving direct legal services to clear title. A total of 1,063 simple wills have been drafted at free, community Wills Clinics; more than 430 families (who collectively own in excess of 22,000 acres) have benefited from various levels of education and expert resources to develop and implement sustainable forestry management plans, and 245 titles have been cleared on family land with a total tax-assessed value of $14.4 million.