Annual Report 2023

A message from Ines Polonius, CEO of Communities Unlimited

Growing Together

2023 Impact

We are a rural development hub working holistically with rural leaders, creating positive change in communities. Our technical assistance and lending impact rural and urban communities throughout our seven-state footprint. Here are the numbers to prove it.


Rural Communities Served


People Served


$ Leveraged


$ Lent


Jobs Created & Sustained


Businesses Served

2023 Impact Map

Community Sustainability

Environmental Services

GIS Mapping

Healthy Foods



2023 Impact Map


The Environmental Services Team works with rural communities to construct, operate and maintain safe drinking water and sanitary wastewater treatment facilities. Environmental Services often works with Lending to meet a community’s needs and opens the door to all of Communities Unlimited’s services.


The Entrepreneurship Team works alongside small business owners to identify and implement solutions to grow their businesses. The Entrepreneurship Team blends with other program areas to help small business owners and communities thrive through Lending, Community Sustainability and others.

Healthy Foods

Healthy Foods works with small-scale farmers in the Mississippi River Delta and offers programs to promote healthy eating habits in food deserts. Blending all Communities Unlimited services provides sustainability for small-scale farmers and the availability of healthy foods.

Growing In East Texas

TLL Temple logo

Communities Unlimited and the T.L.L Temple Foundation are bolstering civic infrastructure across rural East Texas. ConnectRural was developed to strengthen the capacities of rural communities to plan for, secure, and manage transformational funding opportunities by bringing in community resource managers in the T.L.L. Temple service area. The Community Resource Managers collaborate with community leaders to identify local needs, develop action plans, and connect local priorities with Communities Unlimited’s technical assistance expertise.

Nuestra Casa Celebrate 1 Year of Growth

The unique Nuestra Casa loan program provides small-dollar home improvement loans to residents of the Colonias in South Texas allowing families to grow their homes and wealth, reporting to credit agencies is growing credit scores. In August, we celebrated 1 year of providing these loans. The program was able to provide 212 loans in its first 365 days!









Loans 7/22-9/23

Growing Broadband

2023 was a year of growth in our Broadband Department. The Broadband program has grown from an Area Director for Broadband to include a Broadband Interstate Coordinator and 3 American Connection Corps Members working as Digital Equity Coordinators, providing broadband planning and digital equity planning technical assistance to communities. Speaking of growing together, a listening tour was conducted across six cities in Arkansas to learn first-hand about residents’ struggles with broadband equity.

Learn More

Arkansas MBDA Business Center

The official partnership between the SBA and the Arkansas MBDA Business Center was signed in August. Communities Unlimited operates the Arkansas MBDA Business Center and provides expert trainings and technical assistance that align with the MBDA’s strategic goals to support the growth of Minority Business Enterprises through contracting, partnerships, joint ventures, and subcontracting.

Learn MoreArkansas MBDA Page

Housing Grows

Housing at Communities Unlimited has been in growth mode all of 2023. We’ve identified a target market in Pine Bluff, AR, to launch volumetric modular housing and developed a partnership with WECenter WEBuild. Additionally, our COME HOME housing approach, featuring community-centered, holistic capacity building, launched in Dumas, AR. Environmental Services Team members are training to support Communities Unlimited’s housing efforts throughout our seven-state service area.

Learn More

Video courtesy of KATV

Growing a Podcast

In May, Communities Unlimited launched a new outreach platform with a podcast called “Small Talk,” designed to empower and engage rural and emerging communities. So far, guests have included Area and Program Directors and program coordinators from Housing, Broadband, Lending, Healthy Foods, Small Business Owners, Entrepreneurship, CU Board Members, and the Oklahoma Environmental Services Team.

The response has been positive, with over 1,000 downloads and feedback saying they are learning about Communities Unlimited and how we can assist through the audio medium.

Podcast Page

MEMShop Grows in Memphis

MEMShop is a 12-month place-based program managed by Communities Unlimited, Inc. MEMShop creates partnerships to activate vacant and underused storefronts to help build local businesses in Memphis, Tennessee. Born from the idea that retail is vital in revitalizing neighborhoods, MEMShop increases community visibility and vibrancy.

Start-ups and existing businesses that want to test a new concept, test a new product, or test a new location apply to the program. We provide one-on-one business managerial training and other support services to help sustain and grow the businesses.

2023 MEMShop

Carol’s Catered Events
Options Restaurant
Clara Belle’s Kitchen
Gimme Sugar Bakery
Airport City Restaurant

MEMShop Page
Growing Together

New Team Members

23 new team members joined Communities Unlimited in 2023.  We expanded our Environmental Services, Broadband, Community Sustainability, Entrepreneurship, Housing and Program Support Teams to better support our mission of service for rural communities.

Thank you for a great year!

Your support has allowed us to experience a year that we’ll never forget.  We’d love to continue the momentum built in 2023. We work side by side with individuals, communities and organizations to make opportunities accessible to everyone, everywhere. We believe that where you live, what you look like or how much money you have should not determine access to opportunities.

If you want to know more about what we’re working on throughout the year, please sign up for our quarterly newsletter.

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Thanks again for an incredible year in 2023 and we’re looking forward to 2024!