Champion Community Investments is the business name for the Southern Illinois Coal Belt Champion Community, Inc., an Illinois-registered not-for-profit corporation that is tax-exempt under Section 501(c)(3) of the Internal Revenue Code. CCI was founded in early 2002 as a partnering organization with the United States Department of Agriculture Rural Development team in the region with the purpose of providing economic and community development support to parts of Perry, Franklin, and Williamson Counties.
Since its founding, the CCI Board of Directors has met monthly and has had a constructive hand in numerous local projects. Those include support and advocacy for countless infrastructure and public safety grant proposals, sponsoring housing and community leadership conferences, and enabling a 2003 three-county assessment of broadband and economic development that would grow to become the Southern Illinois Broadband Initiative, known today as the 20-county Connect SI program.
In 2010, CCI has expanded its fundamental service area to five counties of southern Illinois — Perry, Franklin, Williamson, Jackson, and Jefferson. In addition to continuing its support for numerous economic, community, and infrastructure development projects, CCI is recognized throughout the region for providing low-interest business loan program, with funds made available through the USDA Intermediary Relending Program (IRP) and Rural Microenterprise Assistance Program (RMAP). CCI also provides assistance to Crosswalk Community Action Agency by generating loans for their revolving loan fund program for businesses in Jackson, Wiliamson, Franklin, and Jefferson Counties.
2013 has seen more growth for Champion Community Investments. We became one of the first organizations in the nation to fully deplete and begin relending recaptured RMAP funds. At this writing CCI has managed to generate 17 loans that total $698,000 out of an original allotment from USDA of $500,000.
In September 2013 CCI learned that it has been recognized by the United States Department of the Treasury as a Community Development Financial Institution, committed to supporting business growth in this high-poverty area. With the CDFI designation will come additional financial and technical resources to further enhance CCI’s impact on the regional economy.
By the end of 2014, CCI has closed over 75 loans with lending assets exceeding $4 million. The Board of Directors of CCI looks forward to being able to contribute more resources in the coming years to the economic vitality of the region.