Philander Smith College Joins $130 Million Deep South Economic Mobility Collaborative
Friday Feb. 12 2021

Philander Smith College Joins $130 Million Deep South Economic Mobility Collaborative

Hope Enterprise Corporation, Goldman Sachs, Southern HBCUs and Cities Launch Program to Strengthen Small Businesses and Bolster Employment in Underserved Communities

Little Rock, Ark. (February 12, 2021) – Philander Smith College joins Hope Enterprise Corporation, with a commitment from Goldman Sachs 10,000 Small Businesses of up to $130 million, in partnership with seven cities, and nine historically Black colleges and universities (HBCUs) to launch the Deep South Economic Mobility Collaborative (DSEMC). Formed to stabilize and strengthen businesses and communities devastated by the economic crisis, DSEMC is an innovative collaborative that invests in the power of small businesses and entrepreneurs in the Deep South, particularly those from underserved and under-resourced communities.

“As a key anchor institution for our community, Philander Smith College is proud to harness and promote Black entrepreneurial success. We look forward to deepening our impact upon the next generation of business leaders through this historic partnership,” said Philander Smith College President Roderick L. Smothers.

DSEMC taps the expertise and capabilities of Hope Enterprise Corporation, Goldman Sachs 10,000 Small Businesses, institutions of higher learning and cities in a unique way to provide access to financing, business education classes, and business support services, leveraging support from the private, public and nonprofit sectors. This comprehensive support focuses on stabilizing and strengthening small businesses, and bolstering employment in a region characterized by deep, entrenched poverty and racial disparities.

“For centuries, racism and economic inequality has thwarted human and economic potential in the Deep South, but our story doesn’t end there,” said HOPE CEO Bill Bynum. “Equipped with opportunity and the right tools, people of this region can accomplish anything. Fueled by their resilience, and harnessing the collective resources of DSEMC, 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.”

“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 Goldman Sachs Managing Director and Head of the Urban Investment Group Margaret Anadu. “By expanding our long-standing partnership with HOPE and working alongside such important institutions as our public sector and HBCU partners, we can collectively create stronger, more inclusive communities while creating a model that can be replicated across the country.”

While the DSEMC is open to all small businesses, the impact of the pandemic and economic crisis has disproportionately harmed communities of color. Recent research shows that between February and mid-April of 2020, 41% of Black businesses had permanently closed due to the impact of COVID-19, compared to 17% of white-owned businesses. Furthermore, the value of Black businesses in the Deep South is lower than in any other part of the country, underscoring the urgent need for solutions in a region with the highest percentage of Black residents.

Through the collaborative, each partner brings unique capabilities and years of experience, and all are passionate about promoting economic opportunity in their communities. Participating municipalities are Little Rock, Arkansas; Birmingham and Montgomery in Alabama; Baton Rouge and New Orleans in Louisiana; Jackson, Mississippi; and Memphis, Tennessee. Other HBCUS participating in the collaborative include Alabama State University, Miles College, Dillard University, Southern University and A&M College, Xavier University of Louisiana, Jackson State University, Tougaloo College, and LeMoyne-Owen College.

Projections call for the DSEMC to serve 4,000-5,000 businesses and support 30,000 employees and their family members while improving conditions in Deep South communities to further Black economic mobility.

To learn more about the Deep South Economic Mobility Collaborative, visit