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    COLUMBIA, S.C., Sept. 15 /PRNewswire/ -- Southern National Bank today announced that it is making available $2 million in loans through a new statewide program in South Carolina that will provide financial assistance and support to small minority businesses.
    Bank officials said they will support the initial lending efforts of the newly created Carolina Business and Professional Consortium, an African-American organization that will administer and manage direct lending to minority businesses.  CBPC has received an additional $30,000 from Southern National to fund start-up costs for the new organization.
    "This represents a significant step toward our goal of increasing our lending to small and minority businesses in South Carolina," said G. Lee Cory, president of Southern National Bank of South Carolina. "We believe this new organization will significantly impact African-American small businesses, individuals and business development organizations, not to mention the positive impact it will have on economic development in South Carolina."
    Established with the support of other professionals in the state, the CBPC's goal "is to provide the unifying structure for meaningful, constructive and measurable African-American economic gain," says David J. Burton, CBPC's managing consultant.
    The CBPC is a statewide membership-driven and membership-funded organization. Small business and professional membership fees are $35 per annum. State involvement and coordination with the governing board is derived through a Member-Business Assembly with representatives from all 46 South Carolina counties.
    One of CBPC's primary features is an innovative direct-lending program for members unable to obtain capital through traditional lending resources.
    In addition to the lending program and basic member services (advocacy, information support, i.e.), the CBPC will also provide procurement assistance; county-level economic and credit needs assessment; and economic research through its affiliated non-profit, tax- exempt foundation arm.
    An initial goal of a $10 million lending pool underwritten by state and regional banks, corporations and foundations is the organization's aim.
    "We are delighted that Southern National Bank is providing financing for the first stage of CBPC's Business Development Fund," Burton said. "We look forward to their continued support and to working with other financial institutions."
    Southern National Bank officials believe the CBPC will be regarded as a landmark accomplishment for African-American business development and funding as well as for providing opportunities in South Carolina.
    "It (CBPC) addresses some fundamental issues of distributing loan funds where they are needed and where they can be most effectively used to move that segment of South Carolina's economy toward a more productive output," said Senior Vice President Chester Williams, who is director of Community Reinvestment for Southern National. "We are extremely proud to have underwritten the program in an effort to assist small businesses in South Carolina."
    Several key regional minority organizations across the state were instrumental in getting the CBPC started, says Burton. Groups such as the Horry County Business Association and Professional Association, the Aiken Area Minority Business Association, the Columbia Business Network Association, the Charleston Business and Professional Association and the Greenville Minority Business Network provided immeasurable assistance in helping shape the organization's structure and focus.
    Access to business development opportunities for state, national and international businesses located in South Carolina will be made possible through the CBPC Corporate Roundtable.  Membership will include, among other things, a subscription to a comprehensive computerized database for research, promotion and detailed procurement matching larger companies' needs with the state's African-American small businesses.
    In order to reach those larger businesses and corporations, CBPC will sponsor a series of statewide corporate briefings to enlist support for membership in the Corporate Roundtable.  This undertaking will be highlighted by a statewide November 1993 Conference on organizational and developmental issues.
    "Our commitment is to meet the credit needs of our communities," Cory said. "We want to accomplish this through proactive outreach programs such as the CBPC.  When we are successful with these programs, we go a long way in improving the quality of life in our communities by creating and expanding businesses and creating jobs."
    Burton speaks passionately about the bank's dedication and foresight, as well as CBPC's mission.
    "Abe Lincoln once said, 'If I had eight hours to chop down a tree, I'd spend seven sharpening my ax,'" he said.  "Over the past year, we have been carefully sharpening axes through building a statewide constituency and consensus for supporting this organization.  We owe a special debt of gratitude to Southern National for its cooperation and financial support during this process."
    EDITOR'S NOTE: Southern National Bank and key business leaders in South Carolina will hold a press conference Wednesday, Sept. 15 at 10:30 a.m. at the Pavillion at 5000 Thurmond Mall in Columbia, S.C. They will announce the formation of the Carolina Business Professional Consortium, an African-American organization that will administer and manage direct lending to minority businesses in South Carolina.
    David Burton of CBPC and Chester Williams and G. Lee Cory of Southern National Bank can be reached at 803-254-5182 following the press conference in Columbia on Wednesday, Sept. 15.  On Thursday, Sept. 16, contacts may be reached at their regular work numbers.  David Burton 803-254-5182; Chester Williams 704-338-5616; and G. Lee Cory 803-748-7123.
    -0-             09/15/93
    CONTACT:  Bob Denham, Public Relations of Southern National, 919-773-7363
    (SNB) -- DD002 -- X906  09/15/93
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Publication:PR Newswire
Date:Sep 15, 1993

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