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Nonprofit Receives $1 Million To Help Fund Women, BIPOC Entrepreneurs

Jenna Eason The Macon Telegraph

WWR Article Summary (tl;dr) The Phil J. and Alice S. Sheridan Foundation pledged $1 million, which will help start Middle Georgia's first Community Development Financial Institution called NewTown Loans that will help underserved real estate developers and entrepreneurs.

Macon

When Anissa Jones was a little girl, she knew downtown Macon was the place she wanted to be.

"When I decided that I wanted to return back to Macon my dream was always to be downtown," she said. "I knew that I wanted to be an entrepreneur, that I wanted to have real estate in the heart of Macon."

That dream became a reality when NewTown Macon's loan program helped Jones receive the financing she needed to purchase property in downtown Macon for her two business ventures.

NewTown Macon announced earlier this week that the Phil J. and Alice S. Sheridan Foundation pledged $1 million, which will help start Middle Georgia's first Community Development Financial Institution called NewTown Loans that will help underserved real estate developers and entrepreneurs.

The fund has $14 million to use towards the economic revitalization of Macon, and entrepreneurs can find information about applying for the loans at www.newtownmacon.com/loans.

Josh Rogers, the president and CEO of NewTown Macon, said when they started their loan program in 2011 to help revitalize downtown Macon, NewTown found that they were already investing in women and people of color.

"As a nonprofit lender, when you get out of the regulated environment of banks, those are the kinds of people who are not able to access capital anyway," he said. "There is this whole industry called a CDFI that specializes in this, so we were already doing it, and it just made all the sense in the world to be able to achieve the certification."

The Sheridan Foundation's pledge will be invested in the Godsey Initiatives Fund over the next five years, and the money will help provide funding to entrepreneurs of color and women in Macon-Bibb County as well as fund NewTown Loans' coaching and technical assistance program, according to a news release.

"As long as there are needs out there that we can meet sustainably, I just can't imagine turning down somebody," Rogers said. "I'm not saying we're going to fix everything, but we're going to be a resource where there is none."

With the amount of money Jones was paying in rent to run her businesses and live downtown, she said she should have been able to own property. "NewTown made that a reality for me and has given me the tools that I needed to navigate that," she said.

Jones serves on the Macon Water Authority for District 1, and she serves on NewTown Macon's Board of Directors.

Jones and her husband, Deon Aiken, own the Total Health Chiropractic and Wellness Center and Pink Chief Boutique in downtown Macon, and they plan to move the businesses from their location on Poplar Street to a building they own at 415 Cherry Street. The tentative plan is to move into the new building by January 2022.

"I think the word is surreal. We thought the impossible, and we got it... I hope that when people see me and Deon that they can see a beacon of hope," she said. "I stand on the shoulders of all of the great men and women that are here in Macon and hopefully, doing this project, they could stand on mine." ___ Distributed by Tribune Content Agency, LLC.

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