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NADCO Member Spotlight: James Stokes, Executive Director, Alliance CDC

Posted By Heather E. McNelis, Tuesday, February 04, 2014

How did you get involved in REAL 504 Lending?

After graduating from LSU in 1985 with a degree in Accounting/Finance, I moved to Texas in pursuit of employment using my degree.  A local CPA told me of an opening in accounting with a CDC in Fort Worth, so I interviewed for the position and was offered the job on the spot.  Over the next 20 years, I worked in all facets of the CDC before becoming the Executive Director in May 2004.


What gives you the most satisfaction of this profession?

For me, perhaps the most satisfaction from this profession comes in seeing the end results.  Having the ability to travel across the Country and seeing the thousands of small businesses who have achieved their dreams, and knowing that those dreams were made possible by our CDC or one of our counterparts through the REAL 504 Lending Program.


What is the most challenging aspect?

The most challenging aspect would be growing the CDC while competing with the other major CDCs in Texas without sacrificing portfolio quality. 


How does your CDC pursue its economic development goals?

One of the most significant ways is working with the greater chamber of commerce as well as the ethnic chambers of commerce in our area of operation.  Twenty years ago slots were created on our board of directors for representatives from each of the chambers of commerce.  This gives us an opportunity to work hand-in-hand and provide financial resources back to the community via the chambers of commerce.  Also, our headquarters is located within a Business Assistance Center (BAC).  The BAC is a one-stop-shop that allows small business owners to receive numerous services provided by SBDC, SCORE, Business Information Center, and among other entities.  Our CDC is not only an anchor tenant, but we also provide financial support to further the BAC’s Mission.  In addition, I am the Charter President of the 8-year-old North Texas Association of Government Guaranteed Lenders (NTAGGL).  Our CDC is one of several entities that have combined financial resources to fund a $50,000  Education Endowment Scholarship Program.  The goal is to provide educational scholarships to students and to eventually see many of them become small business owners.  Lastly, I will be looking at other avenues to leverage the funds necessary to see small businesses succeed.


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?

I offer a standing ovation for the NADCO NextGen Initiative!  When I left the NADCO board in 2012, conversations had already begun regarding the need for succession planning both within the NADCO leadership as well as through-out the CDC industry.  This is a great leap towards building on what is a solid foundation.  The next generation could bring additional energy and creativity to a very viable industry while benefiting from the existing institutional knowledge from those of us currently in the CDC arena.


Are you planning to attend the NADCO 2014 Government Relations Conference?  Why?

Yes, I plan to attend the NADCO 2014 Government Relations Conference.  Our CDC has supported this conference since its inception.  I see it as a great opportunity to keeping the REAL 504 Lending Program and its successes in the forefront of our elected officials.  I believe personally that it gives added value to the elected officials witnessing that a delegation is willing to travel to Washington, DC to represent their cause.

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