3 S.C. community development organizations to receive $3 million in funding.

Three S.C. Community Development Financial Institutions will receive nearly $3 million in grants as part of Wells Fargo's Open For Business program.

The $420 million national small business recovery program, launched using the interest earned by Wells Fargo from Paycheck Protection Program loans, aims to help diverse and minority-owned businesses recover from the COVID-19 pandemic.

The South Carolina Community Loan Fund, which has offices in Columbia, Charleston and Spartanburg, will receive $1 million to distribute to small businesses, as will Greenville-based Community Works. The CLIMB Fund, a Charleston-based business development fund, will receive $750,000.

"We know that small businesses are the heartbeat of our communities across the United States," Justin Hawkins, region bank president for Wells Fargo, said during an announcement of the funding today at Piecewise Coffee Co. in Cayce. "They really pump life into our neighborhoods, making them vibrant places to live, to work, to raise families, and they are key to millions of jobs."

Lindsey Scoma, who owns Piecewise with her husband Stan, received a $118,000 small business loan from the S.C. Community Loan Fund for their cozy State Street coffee shop, which opened in 2019.

"We couldn't thank them enough for their investment," Scoma said. "It's difficult in the beginning. It's like I used to serve in a restaurant, and everyone wants you to have experience but no one wants to be the one to give you the experience. We were super thankful that they met us where we were at and saw a lot of potential in us."

Today's announcement, attended by CDFI officials and Lt. Gov. Pamela Evette, took place in a new event space adjacent to the coffee shop slated to open soon. Scoma said she had been in talks with the building owners about expanding for a while, "but for a couple of years, we were like no more liability for us, especially because the pandemic happened," she said. But with the ongoing pandemic necessitating more space as part of a business pivot that also included opening a catering arm, "we took the leap of faith and here we are, opening in the next week or so."

That's the kind of success story Hawkins hopes the Open for Business funding can help facilitate throughout the state. Having recently opened his own small business in Greer, Hawkins said he know understands firsthand the sacrifices small business owners have to make.

"Your job ranges from being CEO to janitor on a daily basis," he...

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