Elijah Craig, LLC Principal Tim Waters at the Dargan Street Innovation Center in Florence, SC.
The North Dargan Street and Darlington Street corridor, a neighborhood in Florence, SC, is deemed "blighted" by city officials. It is also located in a food desert, meaning residents lack access to fresh and nutritious foods. Tim Waters, owner of Elijah Craig, LLC and a lifelong resident of the neighborhood, wanted to help his community by bringing a full service grocery store to the area.
Despite numerous rejections from lenders, Tim refused to give up his dream of a community-centered grocery store. He attended a SCCLF loan application workshop and later enrolled in Feeding Innovation, a SCCLF program for aspiring entrepreneurs seeking to increase healthy food access in their communities. "The lending team at SCCLF encouraged me, and so I surrounded myself with experts," says Tim. "I wanted to be sure I knew the business, and I wanted to show that I'm willing to do the work." Tim worked tirelessly to refine his business plan throughout the Feeding Innovation program and immersed himself in the grocery business, even taking a third shift job unloading trucks at a local grocery store.
His determination to bring the project to market gained support from the City of Florence, which provided Tim with a $300,000 incentive package as part of their downtown redevelopment strategy. With the city's support and thanks to Tim's efforts, he entered into a partnership with Save-A-Lot and secured the $500,000 in financing he needed to finish his project through SCCLF.
Because of Tim's persistence,
families in the North Dargan Street community will finally have the ability to purchase fresh, healthy food in their neighborhood. The Elijah Craig, LLC Save-A-Lot will initially create 20 new jobs for community members, 12 of which will be full time. The number of employees will increase to 30 as the store grows. Further, a neighborhood currently defined by the city as blighted will have a revitalization effort led in part by a lifelong resident with a vision of community change. "I see the store as building up the community in a healthy way," Tim says. "I want it to be a beacon for healthy change."
SCCLF has now provided 10 healthy food loans totaling over $9.1 million in financing.
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