Hope Enterprise Corp., which includes Hope Federal Credit Union in Jackson, Miss., has partnered with Goldman Sachs, seven cities and nine historically Black colleges and universities to invest in small businesses in the southern United States.

Bill Bynum, CEO of Hope Federal Credit Union

Bill Bynum, CEO of Hope Federal Credit Union

The Deep South Economic Mobility Collaborative will work to stabilize and strengthen businesses, and underserved and under-resourced communities that have been hurt by the economic crisis through investments totaling up to $130 million.

“For centuries, racism and economic inequality [have] thwarted human and economic potential in the Deep South, but our story doesn’t end there,” Hope FCU Chief Executive Bill Bynum said in a press release. “Together we will knock down the barriers facing underserved businesses and communities in a way that has never been done before. The collaborative will help build a more inclusive economy that will yield benefits now and for future generations.”

Projections call for the DSEMC to serve as many as 5,000 businesses, and support 30,000 employees and their family members while improving conditions in their local communities. The pandemic and economic crisis have disproportionately harmed communities of color, the group said in the release, citing Stanford University research showing that between February and mid-April of 2020, 41% of Black businesses permanently closed due to the impact of COVID-19, versus just 17% of white-owned businesses.

“Given the crucial role black small businesses play in their communities, it is incredibly important that we act urgently to narrow capital gaps they face,” said Margaret Anadu, managing director at Goldman Sachs and head of the urban investment group. Goldman is partnering in the initiative under the auspices of its 10,000 Small Businesses initiative.

This past July, Netflix announced plans to partner with Hope to make loans to more than 2,500 entrepreneurs, homebuyers and consumers of color.