Hilda Kennedy is Founder & President of AmPac Tri State Certified Development Company (CDC) in Grand Terrace, California. Approved in April 2007, the CDC has approved more than $160 Million in SBA loans and has been involved with numerous organizations to support the growth and expansion of businesses.
Q: How did you get involved in REAL 504 lending?
A: I was involved in community development on a local government level. I worked as Economic Development Director in the City of Inglewood -- an under served community in Los Angeles County. The number-one reason business owners came to our office was to find capital resources for their businesses since they could not access traditional capital from the neighboring banks. We used HUD programs to create direct loan programs to promote job creation and retention, but our funds were limited. When I left the city, I wanted to engage the SBA program to create direct lending opportunities in underserved communities and utilize the faith-based community as a marketing area to engage such businesses.
Q: What gives you the most satisfaction in this profession?
A: Our greatest satisfaction is saying "Yes" to promising small businesses when others wish they could. We often meet lenders who know the promise of a small business, but either the bank's credit box, or an issue in the borrower's background will not allow then to say "yes." As such, we have served countless business owners, especially women business owners who did not have a CFO who needed more hand-holding, and the results have been so positive in terms of economic development and job creation. One of our clients was in the final stages of her loan process and a large bank turned her down. The conscientious banker contacted us and now, not only did she buy that building with the 504 REAL Program, but within that building she has 12 senior housing units, and she self-financed a new complimentary business in space in the building where she had a tenant. And adding to that success, we are closing a REAL on her third restaurant next month.
Q: What is the most challenging aspect?
A: Ampac is extremely mission-conscious and we firmly believe in serving businesses who have a "credit elsewhere" need. As such, when we work hard with a client and struggle communicating the promise of the business with SBA, it is frustrating. We are grateful that we are firm advocates for our clients and take great pride in understanding the regs so that we can successfully get to the "yes."
Q: How does your CDC pursue its economic development goals?
A: We pursue our economic development goals as members of local Chambers of Commerce, as well as ethnic chambers of commerce. We also engage faith-based leaders and work within faith-based networks. We are also actively involved in community boards and community groups.
Q: Could you comment on the NADCO NextGen initiative, whose goals are to develop the next generation of industry leaders, increase diversity in our leadership, and build relationships with stakeholder industry NextGen groups?
A: I am ecstatic about NextGen and the commitment to develop young leaders and expand our diversity. This effort deliberately complements SBA's efforts with diversifying our reach with the introduction of Community Advantage. NextGen is visionary and I could not be more pleased to be a part of NADCO for such a time as this.
Q: Are you planning to attend the NADCO 2014 Government Relations Conference March 3-5? Why?
A: It is my duty for the industry to attend the Government Relations conference. We have a story to tell and I believe as practitioners we tell it best. I am also bringing a NextGen professional.
Q: Anything you would like to add?
A: NADCO is making a difference for our industry -- the leadership is forward thinking and not afraid to push open doors. I look forward to the incredible future of our industry and the opportunities for America's small businesses.