NC Rural Center Announces New Executive Director of Recently Launched National Nonprofit
Raleigh – Armeer Kenchen, appointed member of the Durham Planning Commission, has joined the NC Rural Center as the executive director of the new nonprofit subsidiary CornerSquare Community Capital (CSCC) and as the director of the organization’s long-running Small Business Credit Initiative (SBCI). In these roles, Kenchen will lead the Rural Center’s small-business lending support programs, including the established Loan Participation Program (LPP) and the recently launched, CornerSquare Community Capital, a $40 million partnership with Truist to support Community Development Financial Institutions (CDFI) in the bank’s 17-state operating region.
Kenchen joins the Rural Center with more than twenty years of experience in community and small-business development, and has previously served in executive staff positions, including executive vice president at the Durham-based CDFI Self-Help Credit Union. Kenchen has also previously served as the economic development director at the Northeastern Community Development Corporation in Camden, North Carolina, as president and CEO of Generations Credit Union in Durham, and as a management consultant for Sekam Trust National Bank in Accra, Ghana. Prior to his career in financial services, Kenchen was a public school teacher in Bertie County, North Carolina.
“Armeer brings with him a wealth of experience from a long and distinguished career in financial services,” said NC Rural Center President Patrick Woodie. “We are excited for him to take over our existing lending support programs, as well as play an integral role in shaping and leading our newest program, CornerSquare Community Capital.”
CornerSquare Community Capital, which launched last week in partnership with Truist, the resulting bank from the BB&T and SunTrust merger, is a first-of-its-kind program that will help CDFIs generate more small-business loans to underserved entrepreneurs, including women, people of color, and individuals of low-to-moderate income.
“This is an exciting time to be joining the Rural Center,” said Kenchen. “As our state and nation’s small-business sector is struggling right now, this work takes on an even more critical and timely importance. Our nation’s economic recovery from the COVID-19 pandemic will depend upon the grit and dedication of our nation’s small-business owners.”
The NC Rural Center’s suite of lending support programs includes the Loan Participation Program (LPP), which was initially funded by the U.S. Department of the Treasury through the States’ Small Business Credit Initiative. The Loan Participation Program is a small-business lending program that helps reduce the risk-exposure for lenders in all 100 North Carolina counties, allowing them to make more loans in their communities and regions. Since launching in 2012, LPP has supported loans to more than 600 businesses, leveraging $500 million in private capital and creating or retaining more than 11,000 jobs.
While LPP serves primarily community banks, federally insured credit unions, and a handful of CDFIs, CornerSquare will focus more exclusively on building a stronger, more vibrant CDFI sector.
Former SBCI director, Thomas Wall, is retiring from his role after nine years of service. Wall initially planned to retire earlier in the spring, but delayed his retirement and stayed on to help the NC Rural Center launch and manage the NC COVID-19 Rapid Recovery Loan Program.
“Tom’s dedication to our state’s rural and small-business communities is unmatched. We are grateful for all Tom has done to build and expand our lending support and small-business development programs, and to help more North Carolina small-business owners get access to the commercial capital they need,” said Woodie. “Most people wouldn’t delay their retirement to take on a challenging new project in the middle of a global pandemic, but Tom isn’t most people. We wish him a happy retirement and thank him for his service to North Carolina.”