Since its founding in 2002, Southern Illinois Coal Belt Champion Community, Inc, or SICBCC and now doing business as (d/b/a) Champion Community Investments (CCI), has partnered with the United States Department of Agriculture (USDA) Rural Development (RD) on their IRP, RMAP, and RBEG. Did I also mention that CCI is a CDFI?
Confusing, huh? For anyone involved with federal and state agencies and particularly in the loan-making space, the alphabet soup of acronyms can be overwhelming. Here’s a partial list of common acronyms we use and what they mean.
CDFI – Community Development Financial Institution – This is a designation awarded by the United States Department of the Treasury that fundamentally indicates that a loan fund is locally-accountable, is not a governmental agency, has an identified target market, and engages in local development work. CDFI’s must have missions of community development and must be able to demonstrate that they pursue those missions.
IRP – Intermediary Relending Program – The IRP is the USDA program from which CCI gets most of its lending capital. USDA lends to CCI who lends to local businesses. As such, that makes CCI the intermediary, or go-between, between the federal agency and southern Illinois businesses. IRP loans have a $150,000 cap and an interest rate of 5%.
RBEG – Rural Business Enterprise Grant – This grant-based loan fund is unique in that as a grant, as opposed to a loan, CCI doesn’t have to pay the grant back to USDA. That means CCI can be a bit more entrepreneurial with RBEG money, but there remains a duty to manage the fund responsibly and report regularly to USDA on the use of the fund.
RMAP – Rural Microenterprise Assistance Program – Like IRP, CCI borrows money from USDA and relends to very small businesses in the region. Microenterprises are defined by USDA as those businesses that employ 10 full-time equivalent employees or less. RMAP loans have a $50,000 cap and an interest rate of 5%.
SBA – Small Business Administration – CCI has partnered with several local commercial lenders who have secured loans through the SBA, which provides loan guarantees up to 75% of the total loan principal.
SICBCC – Southern Illinois Coal Belt Champion Community, Inc. – This is actually CCI’s legal name that is registered with the state and the Internal Revenue Service. It’s just too long and not very descriptive, so in 2010 SICBCC began doing business under the assumed name of Champion Community Investments, or CCI.
SBDC – Small Business Development Center – CCI works closely with the SBDC’s in the area. Unfortunately, given the financial situation of the state, SBDC’s throughout the region have been cutting back staff and even closing. The SBDC’s have for decades provided small business counseling at no charge to business owners and start-ups.
SECA – Small and Emerging CDFI Assistance – In 2014 CCI received a $600,000 grant from the CDFI Fund’s SECA program. The grant came at a critical time for CCI as the loan funds held at the time were running low. The infusion of loan capital allowed CCI to make several regionally impactful loans.
USDA – United States Department of Agriculture – USDA has been CCI’s partner in much of our work since CCI was founded in 2002. It is the agency that lends CCI money so that CCI in turn can lend to area small businesses.