A South Carolina nonprofit is receiving a $2.72 million federal grant to create and open a business incubator and training center in North Charleston, the U.S. Commerce Department announced Wednesday.
Homes of Hope Inc., a Greenville-based Christian nonprofit with a focus on affordable housing, is developing the facility, which will be called the "Opportunity Center."
The funds come from the U.S. Economic Development Administration, an agency within the Department of Commerce that makes investments in economically distressed communities.
An existing 31,250 square-foot building on Rivers Avenue will be renovated to house the center, which is expected to employ about 45 workers. The center would provide various services to small businesses, such as training, mentoring and financial advising.
Additional local funding will go toward the project, an EDA spokesperson said, and the facility is expected to attract additional private investments.
The project is funded under a 2018 act that appropriated $600 million to an EDA program that provides assistance to "regions experiencing adverse economic changes." The funds were specifically designated for areas affected by natural disasters that occurred during 2017, including Hurricane Irma.
U.S. Commerce Secretary Wilbur Ross said in a statement that the new center would "support the growth of businesses and boost the region’s economy."
The property that will house the incubator is at 8570 Rivers Ave., south of Otranto Road. Homes of Hope acquired it from The Pastime Amusement Co. for $2.1 million in late 2017, according to county land records.
In addition to its work with affordable housing, Homes of Hope operates a one-year residential workforce development program for men overcoming addictions. It's focused on religious teaching and construction-related job training.
The group also completed its first mixed-use development last year. A former bank in Clinton, between Columbia and the Upstate, was converted into three first-floor retail spaces with apartments on the upper level. The businesses created eight new jobs, according to the organization's annual report.
A representative from Homes of Hope said the North Charleston project is still in its early stages and declined to provide more details about it.