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Greenville Business Magazine

The Innovate Fund Deploys $21.5 Million In New Markets Tax Credits In Spartanburg

Aug 14, 2018 03:37PM ● By Kathleen Maris

Greenville-based The Innovate Fund, a Community Development Entity (CDE) managed by Tax Advantage Group and Greenville Local Development Corporation, has allocated $21.5 million in New Markets Tax Credits (NMTC) to two projects in Spartanburg. The Franklin School, an early childhood education center in the Northside community, received a $10 million allocation and Highland Baking Co., a wholesale bread baking company, received an $11.5 million allocation for production expansion. The combined funds will support the creation of 265 direct jobs and provide vital community services to these Appalachian Regional Commission Distressed Areas of Spartanburg County.

The Franklin School

The $10.3 million project is the first major development of the Northside Initiative, a comprehensive effort led by Northside Development Group (NDG), to transform a 400-acre, once blighted and forgotten neighborhood. Located in an area with 49.5 percent poverty and 32.1 percent median family income, The Franklin School, operated by Spartanburg County First Steps, will serve approximately 175 children ages 6 weeks through 5 years in a full-day, full-year program. Enrollment priority will be given to Northside residents and children zoned for Cleveland Academy, the local elementary school, of which 100 percent of students are eligible for the National School Lunch Program. Also located in a Federal Medically Underserved Area, The Franklin School will have an office for healthcare providers to meet with students and administer a variety of medical services.

"NDG and its many community partners have, and continue to work toward, a shared vision of creating a vibrant cradle-to-career education pipeline, affordable housing options, and a healthy environment that supports all stages of life, regardless of income," said Bill Barnet, NDG CEO and board chair, and former mayor of Spartanburg.

The Franklin School will catalyze nearly $65 million of additional follow-on private sector investments to create a community center, 90-units of mixed-income housing and additional health care services in the neighborhood.

Highland Baking Co.

Highland Baking Co. (HBC) currently has two production facilities, one located just outside of Chicago and one on Asheville Highway in Spartanburg, which opened in 2012 and quickly reached its production and employment capacities. The company currently employs 210 full-time workers in Spartanburg and operates two production lines for three shifts each day, maxing out its available cold storage space. The Innovate Fund's investment will pay for an expansion of HBC's cold storage space, allowing the company to continue its fast-paced growth by adding a third production line. This will produce 170 new direct jobs in a community with 47 percent poverty and 17.4 percent unemployment.

Stu Rosen, chief executive officer of Highland Baking Co., said, "We are excited about The Innovate Fund's investment in this project, which will afford us the continued ability to grow and further solidify our commitment to the community of Spartanburg." 

In an effort to foster local accessibility of its jobs, Highland Baking Co. is working with NDG to recruit and hire residents from the Northside community. Tammie Hoy Hawkins, project manager of NDG, said, "Partnerships with businesses in our community like Highland Baking Co., who are focused on hiring locally, is paramount to the continued success of our residents. NDG is happy to serve as the connection between the community and potential employers."

Established in 2011, The Innovate Fund continues to benefit from substantial support from U.S. Senators Lindsey Graham and Tim Scott and U.S. Congressman Trey Gowdy. "We are indebted to the service of our federal legislative delegation," said Innovate Fund Program Manager Whitney Ferguson. "Their hard work ensures we have available funding to support projects like The Franklin School and Highland Baking, which have direct and lasting impacts on the quality of life for their local communities."