Stories

Healthy Communities, Healthy Families, Healthy Businesses...these are their stories

Supporting Amarillo And Surrounding Areas

In Amarillo and its surrounding West Texas communities, Communities Unlimited (CU) stands as a beacon of support and engagement.With a presence spanning lending, community sustainability, environmental services,…

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Oklahoma PWA Streamlines with CU Training

Kiowa is a small town in Pittsburg County, Oklahoma, with a population of 731. Located in the southeastern part of the state, the Kiowa Public Works Authority serves about 350 water customers and 294 sewer customers. The…

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Tennessee Entrepreneur’s Journey from Mortician to Mentor

The question Tennessee Entrepreneur Pamela Ware is most frequently asked: how do you do what you do? “I knew at age 14 that death and I would have a special relationship,” Ware said. “I’m not afraid of death. I never have…

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Mississippi Entrepreneur Opens Dream Cottage

Mississippi Entrepreneur Mildred Smith dedicated her career to serving as both a social worker and an adjunct professor at East Mississippi Community College until her retirement in 2022. Smith, whose family has held the…

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Texas Entrepreneur Pursues Cozy Spaces

As a mom since she was 18, Texas Entrepreneur Ericka Bennett loved making her home cozy for her family. As her kids got older, Bennett started doing do-it-yourself projects at home. She found she was good at interior design…

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Automotive Mechanic Revs Up Texarkana

Scott Anthony has immersed himself in the automotive mechanic industry since the age of 20, acquiring knowledge through hands-on experience and on-the-job training. Anthony achieved mastery in automotive repair, obtaining…

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CU Ensures Safe Water for Rural Tennessee Residents

Groundwater quality in Tennessee varies widely across the state. While the western region is known for its reliable water sources, the geological composition in the middle and eastern parts of Tennessee creates differences…

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A phone and a few connections led CU Community Facilitator Deanna O'Malley to see that multiple rural communities received free scoreboards for their youth sports programs

Rural Communities Score Big

It’s all about being in the right place at the right time. That was the case for Communities Unlimited (CU) and the Community Sustainability Team in March 2024. Office manager Calise Smith was seeking to donate nine…

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Justine McCall, owner of Beautifully Blessed Salon

Louisiana Entrepreneur Expands Business

** This story is a follow-up to our story from April 2023 “New Salon A Natural Extension For Owner” ** In 2023, Louisiana Entrepreneur Justine McCall embarked on a life-changing journey. Following the opening of…

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Passion Leads To Progress In Oklahoma Community

Wright City, Oklahoma, once a thriving timber industry hub, faced economic distress following the closure of its primary employer in 2009. The loss of jobs and income strained the town’s finances, hindering efforts to…

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Earl Washington

Mississippi Entrepreneur Reaps Millions In Business Sale

**This story is an update to our original story “Mississippi Business Still Cleaning Up After 46 Years“ After almost 50 years devoted to the coatings industry, Mississippi entrepreneur Earl Washington…

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Arkansas Entrepreneur John Paul Schmidt received assistance from the Lending and Entrepreneurship Teams at Communities Unlimited for his business Wholly Schmidt Foods

Arkansas Entrepreneur’s Journey To Success

At 17 years old, John Peyton Schmidt decided to drop out of Fayetteville (Ark.) High School. During that period, he grappled with drug involvement, faced instability within his family, and struggled with substance…

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East Texas Business Owner Experiences Phenomenal Growth

Since acquiring Unlimited Designs from a church friend in 2019, Janet Molandes has been at the helm of the Nacogdoches, Texas-based custom printing outlet. Unlimited Designs stands out for its expertise in crafting…

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Small Talk Episode 24

When you think hot sauce, you may think scorching heat, but James Louis of Wholly Fire Foods marches to the beat of a different drum. His creations are a testament that the secret to a great hot sauce isn’t…

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Reflections On My First Community Visit

To say my first road trip as a staff member at Communities Unlimited (CU) was eye-opening would be an understatement. I started at CU on March 11, 2024, so I am brand new to the company. Being on my first road trip and not…

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Texas Repairman’s Business Thrives With Small Business Loan Boost

Texas repairman Wilbur Griffin II vividly remembers May 19, 2019, as a day that started like any other. Griffin II, then a technician at Mr. Appliance, woke up, prepared for work, and set off in his truck. However,…

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Unique Farm To School Partnership Nourishes Communities

In 2022, partners Communities Unlimited (CU), Eat Real, and Healthy Flavors received a Farm to School grant from the United States Department of Agriculture (USDA) to strengthen farm-to-school programs throughout the…

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Joy On Wheels: An Arkansas Entrepreneur’s Inspirational Journey

For Arkansas entrepreneur Araceli Ochoa, the journey from waitress to business owner wasn’t just about financial success. It was about crafting a lifestyle that allowed her to be present with her 8-year-old daughter,…

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Unearthing History: Archaeological Dig Unites East Texas Community

In the heart of the East Texas Community of Pineland, Texas, sits Georgia-Pacific Corporation, one of the world’s leading makers of tissue, pulp, packaging, and building products. Like many manufacturers, Georgia-Pacific…

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James Louis at a tent selling hot sauce

Mississippi Entrepreneur Grows Hot Sauce Business

Originally started as a means for a married couple to reduce their salt intake, Wholly Fire Foods, LLC has evolved from a home remedy to a natural condiment suitable for all hot sauce enthusiasts. Mississippi Entrepreneur…

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Small Talk Episode 23

This week we join forces with Nathan Ohle of the International Economic Development Council and Martha Claire Bullen from Communities Unlimited. Our conversation traverses rural economic ecosystems, highlighting…

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Tennessee Entrepreneur Goes From Hospital Breakroom to Nationwide Popcorn Maker

In 2016, Memphis-based Tennessee Entrepreneur Lamus Rush III was in medical care, working as a nurse. On his off days away from the hospital, he dabbled in the kitchen, cooking up gourmet popcorn. It’s safe to say his…

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Cutting-Edge GIS Tech Empowers Louisiana Water District

Communities Unlimited staff began an EPA National Priority 1 Drinking Water Technical Assistance grant-funded mapping project with the East Columbia Water District (ECWD) on Feb. 20, 2024. The objective was to construct a…

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North Heights Linen Service

Linen Service Serves Hospitals And The Amarillo Community

North Heights Linen Service, LLC is a 30,000-square-foot facility located in Amarillo, TX, that serves hospitals and medical facilities with mass laundry services. But, North Heights Linen Service originated much further…

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Small Talk Episode 21

Join Trent Neathery, GIS maestro at Communities Unlimited, as he guides us through rural community mapping. We’ll discover the pivotal role of high-precision GPS in preserving water systems and local…

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Small Talk Episode 20

Unlock the secrets of Geographic Information Systems (GIS) and how they revolutionize community asset management with our special guest, Don Becker from Communities Unlimited. This episode reveals the crucial role…

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Small Business Finance: Master the 7 Key Financial Ratios

Dale RutherfordCommunities Unlimited Area Director Entrepreneurship Are you a small business owner striving for success and sustainability in a competitive market? You don’t have to be an accountant or CPA to…

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12 From 2023

2023 was a big year at Communities Unlimited that found new partnerships, new clients and new employees all leading to lots of growth together.  These are the top 12 stories determined by page views from January 1st to…

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Creating A Winning Small Business Website

Tracy CookCommunities Unlimited Management Consultant A small business website, many times, is the first impression to a potential customer. They will spend a small amount of time viewing your website before they…

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Funding Strategies For Startups

Funding Strategies for Startups

Sierra PolkManagement Consultant sierra.polk@communitiesu.org Starting a small business with the goal to one day become a BIG business, is an incredible journey. One of the biggest challenges an entrepreneur can…

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Small Talk Episode 19

Join us as we take an intimate look into the world of Amanda Phillips, the resilient owner of Tamp & Grind, who bravely stepped into entrepreneurship following her husband’s untimely passing. We embark…

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Sweet Partnership With Arkansas Entrepreneur

Nearly every child has dreamed of taking a tour through a candy factory and eating enough candy to cause a stomach ache. Some kids wish for a chance to stroll through a land full of candy and see everything it has to offer.…

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Small Business Loan Helps Arkansas Teacher Pursue Dream

Amanda George owns No Dress Code, an online boutique specializing in women’s and children’s apparel and accessories, based in Russellville, Arkansas who came to Communities Unlimited seeking a small business loan to fund her…

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Small Talk Episode 18

Are you ready to gain an understanding of the innovative strategies transforming rural communities? In today’s episode, we sit down with Jerry Kenney, Program Officer at the TLL Temple Foundation. He gives…

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Connecting History in East Texas

Crockett is a city in the county seat of Houston County, Texas. The city has a population of approximately 6,332 and is the fifth oldest city in Texas. Being one of the oldest cities in Texas makes Crockett full of history.…

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Small Talk Episode 17

Ever wonder how small-dollar loans can transform underserved communities and uplift the lives residents? Join us for an inspiring conversation with Michael Rivera, a loan officer for the Nuestra Casa program, who…

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Small Business Plans Big Things in Little Rock

Pettaway Square, located in the heart of Little Rock, Arkansas, is an area where many entrepreneurs open their businesses and its newest resident is L’Etoile Nail Salon. L’Etoile is a new nail salon owned by Sheila…

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Small Talk Episode 16

Did you know that water is not just a means of sustenance, but also holds immense cultural and spiritual significance for the Cherokee Nation? Join us for a captivating conversation with Billy Hix, the Senior…

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Map of Tucker, AR

Water System Continues Regionalization Efforts

Jefferson County, Arkansas, is located in an area known as the Arkansas Delta. Jefferson County consists of five cities, with Pine Bluff being the largest. The Wright-Pastoria Water Association is located in rural Jefferson…

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Louisiana Entrepreneur Keeps Grinding

After taking over her late husband’s coffee business in 2017, Louisiana Entrepreneur Amanda Phillips had no idea that her small coffee shop would still be brewing almost fourteen years later. Amanda owns Tamp & Grind…

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Entrepreneur Designs A Way To Make Her Dreams A Reality

When it comes to design, Entrepreneur Maria Isabel Barrero has found her space. Maria was born in Columbia but has lived in Little Rock, Arkansas, for over five years. She came to the United States to study but ended up…

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Rural Texas Town Gets New Lift Station Pumps

The City of Wellman is located in Terry County, Texas, about an hour from Lubbock, Texas. Wellman was incorporated in 1975. The city was once a shipping point on the Santa Fe Railroad. The town was named after Augustus Ogden…

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Arkansas Marshallese Business Grows

Alele Mart Marshallese Kitchen & Cultural Store is a unique market in the heart of Springdale, Arkansas. Sanya Pedro, a local entrepreneur and member of the Marshallese community in Northwest Arkansas, opened the…

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Small Talk Episode 15

What if you were told your dreams were out of reach? Would you let the world crumble your aspirations or would you rise above the adversity? Get ready to be inspired Isaac Traylor, owner of 3-i Pressure Washing…

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Memphis Entrepreneur Has “Options”

Like any mother, Shalonna Burnett-Haynes has always wanted the best for her two daughters, Breana and Brittany, so there was only one “option” when creating a vision for the family’s future. Shalonna started cooking at a…

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Small Talk Episode 14

Join us as we pull up a chair with Brenda Williams, Healthy Foods Coordinator at Communities Unlimited. Get ready to unpack the pressing issue of food insecurity in rural communities, and the unique challenges…

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Partnership With A “Pig” Purpose

If you have school-aged children, you want to know that your kids stay safe, make good choices, and learn new things while at school. Parents trust that the school administration can make sure these things are happening.…

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Coins with balance sheet

Small Business: Understanding Your Financial Statements

Financial statements may seem intimidating to small business owners, but they are required to make informed financial decisions. Let’s break down the different financial statements and provide practical tips on how to…

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Small Talk Episode 13

Ever wondered how to leverage your business to build personal wealth? Prepare to unlock the answers with us as we engage in a thought-provoking discussion with Maria Barrero, the brains behind Spaces2Love, a firm…

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Decoding Financial Statements: What Small Business Owners Need To Know

As a small business owner, understanding financial statements is crucial for the success and growth of your enterprise. Financial literacy empowers you to make informed decisions, identify opportunities for growth, and…

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Liz Bell-Simpson and her daughter Josefina Thomas have used a trailer from Cargill's Black Farmers Initiative to create a beneficial partnership for other small-scale growers in their area

WSBZ Farms Uses Grant To Benefit All

This story is an update to our original story announcing the partnership between Communities Unlimited and Cargill Black Farmers InitiativeRead The OriginalIn 2022, Communities Unlimited (CU) received a grant from Cargill’s…

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Small Talk Episode 12

What does it take to ensure clean water for everyone? We crack open this big question with our special guests from Communities Unlimited’s Environmental Team, Gaylene Riley and Karen Conrad.  Gaylene is the…

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Protect Your Business from Predatory Lending

In the world of business financing, not all loans are created equal. While many lenders operate with integrity and transparency, others engage in predatory lending practices that can trap small business owners in a cycle of…

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BUILDING AN EMPIRE, ONE MEAL AT A TIME

Memphis, Tennessee, is known for its blues, soul, rock-n-roll music, and unique nicknames that capture the town’s heritage and interesting identity. Through the years, Memphis has been called the Home of the Blues, the…

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Small Talk Blog Cover Art

Small Talk Episode 11

August is National Water Quality Month. Have you ever stopped to wonder about the unsung heroes behind your tap water? Passionate champions committed to the water and wastewater industry. Join us as we shed light…

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M is for Melody, Macarons, Moms and Malls

To say that Melody Davis has a “sweet” job would be true. However, the journey to get there required a little dough. Melody Davis owns Melody’s Macarons, a gourmet bakery store that offers French-style baked products such as…

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Not All Heroes Wear Capes: Texas Community Rises through Obstacles

Winona is a city in the state of Texas. The small town is three miles north of Owentown in northeastern Smith County. With a population of around 576 residents, the town dates back to 1870 when it was established on the old…

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Town Hall sign in Gordon, AL

Resilience In Gordon Alabama

Gordon was first incorporated in 1872 and is located in Houston County, in southeastern Alabama, neighboring Georgia and Florida. The small community was first established as a trading post on the Chattahoochee River. It…

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Small Talk Episode 10

Ever wondered how water systems in rural communities work, or more importantly, who makes it work? Stride into the world of Tammy McKeon, Lucas Guinne, and Bradley Pittman, from the Oklahoma Environmental team at…

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Small Talk Episode 9

Rhett Douglass is a Senior Management Consultant on the Entrepreneurship Team at Communities UnlimitedIn this episode of Small Talk, the Communities Unlimited podcast, Rhett Douglas, a senior management consultant…

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Community Sustainability featured on podcast

Dawn Parker from our Community Sustainability team was featured on the Texarkana Gazette’s podcast “On The Line” recently.  Give it a listen as she introduces the people of the Texarkana area to CU and what…

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Cleaning supplies on a wood background

Arkansas Small Business Gets A Clean Start

In 2019, when Healthcare workers were in high demand due to COVID-19, Tabatha Vail from Marion, Arkansas, earned her Master’s in Healthcare Administration. She aimed to further her healthcare career and eventually started…

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Creating Wealth Through Entrepreneurship

Starting a small business is a unique decision that varies among owners, each with their own personal reasons. Understanding their true motivation for starting their venture often requires asking several questions, but…

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MISSISSIPPI BUSINESS STILL CLEANING UP AFTER 46 YEARS

Earl Washington from Jackson, Mississippi, owns U.S. Coating Specialties & Supplies, Inc., which specializes in cleaning supplies, and commercial and industrial equipment for hospitals, schools, and other government…

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Broadband Map

Broadband Basics 101 For Communities

In this video Communities Unlimited Area Director For Broadband Catherine Krantz shares the basics of broadband. You’ll get the knowledge you need to have effective conversations about broadband in your community and…

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Digital Marketing

What Small Business Owners Should Know About Digital Marketing

In today’s virtual world, digital marketing has become a crucial tool for small business owners to reach a wider audience at a reduced cost compared to traditional marketing methods. With well-designed digital…

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DELTA DIRT written on Window

Raising Spirits In The Delta

The City of Helena-West Helena is located in the Arkansas Delta, where the Mississippi River is the eastern boundary. The area is known as the delta farmland because the landscape is rich and flat. The Arkansas Delta is one…

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Broadband Map

BEAD Funding Allocated For Broadband Infrastructure

In case you missed the big broadband funding news on Monday (6/26/23), President Biden handed out over $40 billion dollars to states for broadband infrastructure deployment as part of the historic BEAD (Broadband Equity…

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Ashton Nicole lipgloss

Caribbean Roots Lay Foundation For Memphis Entrepreneur

Although Memphis Entrepreneur Ashton Knight spends her days working as a Public Health Coordinator for the Shelby County Health Department, she also has a strong interest in the beauty industry. Ashton spent her teenage…

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Tiny home

Texas Entrepreneur Sheds Light On His Future

Gaylen Fincher is an entrepreneur from Texarkana, Texas. He has been around construction his whole life. His father and grandfather are carpenters, and he has watched them work since childhood. Gaylen started working with…

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Capital Readiness: A Cornerstone To Small Business Sustainability And Growth

“Capital Readiness” is a catchphrase often used in today’s small business management and development world. But what does it mean, especially for small businesses? In essence, capital readiness refers to a business’s…

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Map of Belmont Louisiana

CU Assists Louisiana Community With Water Project

Belmont is an unincorporated community in Sabine Parish, Louisiana. The small community is located at the junction of Highways 120 and 175. Belmont is located in the Western-most side of the state and . Locals enjoy…

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Winslow, AR welcome sign

Winslow Receives First CU Pre-Development Loan In Arkansas

Winslow, Arkansas, is a city in southern Washington County. Located in the northwest part of Arkansas, the community was a stagecoach stop for many years. On December 11, 1876, the town received its first post office.…

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Insight article header

Insights For The Would-Be Entrepreneur

Choosing to start a small business venture can be a rewarding endeavor, offering a path to creating wealth, personal satisfaction, and a legacy for the next generation of the family. However, it’s also a journey…

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Burthel Thomas

“Food Farmacy” launches in Jefferson County, AR

This story was originally published by ENGAGE Magazine, a publication of Arkansas Community Foundation. Republished here with their consent. Overconsumption of processed foods has been linked to the…

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Location of Military Highway Water Supply Corp on a map

South Texas Water Supply Gets Loan To Prepare For Future

Military Highway Water Supply (MHWSC) is in southeastern Hidalgo County, TX. La Feria borders it to the west by Weslaco and to the east in Cameron County. Situated between the towns of Mercedes and Progreso, the water supply…

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Moon River Boutique

Boutique Offers Big City Vibes With A Touch Of Twang

Bethany Powell lives in Jonesboro, Arkansas, and attended college at Arkansas State University (ASU). From an early age, Bethany knew she wanted to own a business. She has always had a business mindset and has created goals…

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Small Business Makes Cups Runneth Over In Arkansas Town

You’ve heard the saying, “But first, coffee.”  For Ashtyn Leinbach, of Siloam Springs, Arkansas, that phrase will take on a whole new meaning.  Ashtyn owns Perisseia Coffeehouse, LLC, and will soon start…

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Produce purchased as part of the Booneville Bucks pilot program

Healthy Produce Produces Great Results In Arkansas Town

Booneville, Arkansas, is located in Logan County and is settled between the Arkansas River Valley and the Ouachita and Ozark Mountains. The city has a population of around 3,990 and is one of the oldest cities in western…

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Blink Research Center office in Memphis

Memphis Research Center Focuses On Future

Tani Williams owns Blink Research Center LLC., a clinical research facility focusing on eye treatments for minorities by providing innovative and optimal solutions through clinical trials in the field of ophthalmology. Blink…

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NEW SALON A NATURAL EXTENSION FOR OWNER

Justine McCall owns Beautifully Blessed, a Beauty Salon in Delhi, Louisiana. She has always loved doing hair. As a little girl, she enjoyed trying different hairstyles and changing up the look, which led her to want to…

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JAB Trucking Gets Back On The Road

JAB Trucking and Logistics, LLC. is owned by Jarvis and Eboni Battles. The company is located in Pine Bluff, Arkansas, and strives to be a leader in the transportation industry by providing quality, safe, and on-time…

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Village of Creola city sign

A Small Village Gets Big Help

The Village of Creola is an incorporated village in Grant Parish, Louisiana. It is located along the southern border of Grant parish. The Town of Creola has a population of 213 and was incorporated in 2022. The village…

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Boynton city sign

Oklahoma Public Works Authority Receives Loan For Improvements

The small town of Boynton, Oklahoma, is about 17 miles from Muskogee, Oklahoma. The town was built in 1903 and named after E.L. Boynton, chief engineer of the Missouri Coal and Railroad Company. Through the years, Boynton…

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Arkansas Small Business Builds Success One Piece At A Time

Matt Smith owns Machinewerx CNC in Hartford, Arkansas. Machinewerx CNC is a precision machine shop that manufactures fabricated metal products and specializes in CNC Lathe and Mill Machining. Matt came to Communities…

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CDFI Loan Gets Restaurant Owner Exactly What Lady Ordered

When searching for a small business loan to grow her restaurant, Sforenia Robinson was referred to Communities Unlimited (CU) for a Community Development Financial Institutions (CDFI) Loan. As it turns out, that was just…

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D Bar B Water Supply

From Hand-Dug Wells To Providing Water To Others

The D Bar B Water Supply Corporation (WSC) has a long history of Communities Unlimited (CU) assistance from an original Texas Attorney General (AG) referral and enforcement that caused the prior owner of the water and…

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Oklahoma Town Gets Funding For Leaking Standpipe

In north-central Nowata County, Lenapah serves about 323 people in less than a square mile. Lenapah is primarily an agricultural community. The Cherokee Nation referred Lenapah to Communities Unlimited (CU) for funding…

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Arkansas CDFI Coalition

The following is a guest post from Deborah Temple with the Arkansas CDFI Coalition: The Arkansas CDFI Coalition is a group of CDFIs and partner organizations working together to promote economic revitalization and community…

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Tree in Sibley, LA

Union Grove Water System Undergoes a Major Cleaning 

If you find yourself traveling down US Highway 371 in South Webster Parish in Northwest Louisiana, you may stumble upon a small community with a rich history of cypress trees, sawmills, and railroads. According to…

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Kristen Porter owner of Glory Boutique

A LEAP OF FAITH TAKES A MEMPHIS ENTREPRENEUR ON A GLORIOUS JOURNEY

Kristen Porter wanted to have her clothing line be an expression of her faith.  Her personal journey woven into the fabric messages means more to her than just a saying. Kristen lives in Memphis Tennessee, where she runs and…

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Septic tank

TEXAS FAMILY RECEIVES RUNNING WATER FOR THE FIRST TIME IN DECADES

Eyeka Davis from Madisonville, Texas knows all too well about the daily struggles to provide for her family. Her primary focus as a mother is to keep her family safe and healthy. She dedicates her life to taking care of her…

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Old West Mobile Home Park

CU Comes to the Rescue as Old West Mobile Home Park Faces Hurdles

Old West Mobile Home Park is a small mobile home park community and water system that is located off McCormick Road on Interstate Highway 27, in Randall County, near the city of Amarillo, Texas. Old West Mobile Home Park…

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Healthy Sweets Bakery

A Cross-Border Friendship Grows Into Sweet Business Consulting in Brownsville, Texas

According to wbur.org, research has shown that immigrants are 80% more likely to start a business than people that are born in the U.S. However, immigration is a complicated process to go through. Maintaining a successful…

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Where Are They Now: Paula Anderson Coaching and Consulting

This month marks the one year anniversary of Paula Anderson receiving a small business loan from Communities Unlimited for her coaching and consulting business.  Through Paula Anderson Coaching and Consulting, Paula provides…

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Old Union Water Association Secures Funding For New Generator

Shannon is a small town in Lee County, Mississippi, with a population of 1,753. According to Wikipedia.org, the town is on Mississippi Highway 145, west of U.S. Route 45. The town got its name from Samuel Shannon, who…

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Hidden Valley Lakes Google Maps

CU Assists Tennessee with a Major Well Project

Hidden Valley Lakes Corporation is a camping and RV resort on 1,100 wooden acres in central Tennessee. The corporation is about 20 miles from Loretta Lynn’s Ranch and 10 miles from Grinders Switch (Minnie Pearl’s Home Town),…

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Mulberry, AR Participates In Rewarding Program

Mulberry, Arkansas, is in the Arkansas River Valley. The city settled around the time of the Louisiana Purchase. The town got its name from early settlers because of the large mulberry trees lining the riverbanks. According…

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Nacogdoches, TX Restaurant Owner Receives Loan to Open New Restaurant

Old Tyler Road Café LLC is located in Nacogdoches, Texas, and is the home of delicious foods and great music. According to the owner Barrion Johnson, it is also a place to celebrate with family and friends. Many restaurants…

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Central Arkansas Pressure Washing Company Owner Makes Plans for His Growing Business

William Traylor is the founder and owner of 3-i Pressure Washing and Detail LLC., a full-service mobile detail and pressure washing company that services consumers and businesses in Central Arkansas. Although William has…

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RCAP Conference 2022: My First RCAP Conference

After attending the Rural Community Assistance Program (RCAP) Conference in Columbus, Ohio, I am going to say that the whole week and the experience(s) I went through were excellent. I started Communities Unlimited (CU) in…

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Dedication and Determination Guide Mrs. B On The Keys To The Tune Of Success

Emily Brandon is a popular figure in the Jackson, Mississippi, community. Her 17-year background as a public-school music teacher gained her the recognition of being a dedicated, results-orientated, passionate teacher and…

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Communities Unlimited Works with Cargill to Assist Black Farmers

Communities Unlimited received a grant from Cargill’s Black Farmer’s Initiative to purchase trailers for growers in three states to increase their farm’s capacity. Cargill’s goal is to build a more equitable economy. They…

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SDCRWA

South Delaware County Regional Water Authority

Originally, named Flint Ridge Rural Water District (FRRWD), South Delaware County Regional Water Authority (SDCRWA) is in Kansas, Oklahoma, and began on May 19, 2017. The system’s goal is to provide safe, clean, water to all…

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PFAS chemical diagram

PFAS: The Forever Chemical Problem

PFAS or per- and polyfluorinated alkyl substances are a class of thousands of human-made chemicals that have been dubbed “forever chemicals.” Most PFAS do not breakdown in the environment, and their production, use and…

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A Tour of Possibilites

A Tour of Possibilities, a client of Communities Unlimited’s Entrepreneurship Department, recently received a grant from Memphis Local Initiatives Support Corporation.   A Tour of Possibilites (ATOP) provides…

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East Texas Muncipal Utility District

East Texas Municipal Utility District (MUD) Obtains New Equipment

Tyler is in Northeast, Texas and is the largest city in Smith County. The city has a population of around 106,000 people (about the seating capacity of the Los Angeles Memorial Coliseum). Tyler gets its name from John Tyler,…

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A.K. Williams Construction, LLC

Austin Williams is a native Louisianan, from Dry Prong, LA., who has been in the construction industry for 10 years. In 2017, he formed A.K. Williams Construction to become an independent contractor so that he could control…

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Chef Yates Catering and More

Chef Christopher Yates is no stranger to the world of food. After graduating from culinary school, he has spent the last eight years preparing meals for some of Memphis, Tennessee’s finest establishments. In 2018, he decided…

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Full Lock Drift, LLC. – A Hobby Becomes a Lifestyle

Michael Mansfield from Edmond, Oklahoma started participating in full lock drift events in 2016, in between his full-time employment as an Air Force Officer. The sport, labeled “racing,” is a judged event where one person…

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United Water System

United Water System Inc. 

Arnaudville, LA., borders the towns of St. Landry and St. Martin just north of Lafayette, which locals may say “In the belly of Acadiana”. The town got its name from the Brothers Arnaud, who donated a large amount of land to…

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Trinity Truck Driving School 

Wilmon and Carlissa Edwards started the vision of Trinity Truck Driving School in 2021. Trinity Truck Driving School is a startup truck driving school located in Lake Village, Arkansas. The school provides commercial truck…

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Sandy Point Water System

Sandy Point Water System Receives Assistance in Paying Off Loans

Creston is a small community in the northern part of Natchitoches Parish, Louisiana. The town sits on the eastern bank of the Red River and has a population of 1,056. The residents of the rural community have relied on Sandy…

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Egan Water Tower

Egan Water Corporation Receives Funding To Replenish Emergency Reserve

Egan, Louisiana is a small town located about halfway between Lafayette and Lake Charles, Louisiana, along Interstate 10. The town is located near the Gulf of Mexico and is surrounded by farmland and pine forests.   The Egan…

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Orange, TX

Orange, TX Prepares For Population Increase

Orangefield Water Supply Corporation Orange, Texas is located in Orange County, near the Texas and Louisiana border, in an area of Texas, known as the “Gateway to Texas”, due to it being the Lone Star State’s easternmost…

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River Road Water Works Gets Needed Upgrades 

The small town of Rayville is located in Richland Parish, Louisiana. The community is in the heart of northeastern, LA., and is known for its southern charm, hospitality, and exciting industry. The residents of this lively…

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Christina McCarter

A Memphis Business Owner Expands

Christina McCarter, from Memphis Tennessee, believes that bringing people together in sustainable ways, while packing a flavorful punch is a great way to live. In fact, it is the motto behind her growing charcuterie delivery…

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Louisiana Photographer Gets Funding For New Equipment

Louisiana Photographer Josh Candiloro is the owner of Josh Candiloro Photography, a full-service studio that focuses on school, sports, dance and studio photography in Louisiana and Texas. As his business continued to get…

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Chattcuterie LLC. Chattanooga Tennessee

Chattcuterie LLC. A Chattanooga Tennessee Couple Receives Funding To Make Their Dream Come True By: Ben Smith Staff Writer Long before they even met, husband and wife duo, Raychel and Stephen Stapleton, both had a love for…

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Stop and Read Books

Stop & Read Books – Marfa Texas

Kendall Weir, from Marfa Texas, is one of the many people who lost their job during COVID-19. She started to wonder what was next and how she was going to move on. The Pandemic started forcing so many to work from home.…

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Vickie Woodard

Melosong Properties

**Update 8/2/22** Watch Vickie’s progress in a new video Vickie Woodard, the CEO of Melosong Properties, Inc., a real estate company in England, Arkansas is too familiar with the struggles that her hometown of…

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Rural Water Systems Need Immediate Investment to Prepare for Future Disasters

This post was originally published [link to post] on Urban Wire, the blog of the Urban Institute. Rural Water Systems Need Immediate Investment to Prepare for Future Disasters By Corianne Payton Scally, Rebecca Marx and…

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SOAR Fund – The People’s Cup MicroRoastery

Before After Blair Edwards has always known that he would one day take his love of coffee and make it into a business. He realized that he loved coffee at a very young age, so he started working for…

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Cybersecurity for Rural Community Water and Wastewater Systems

Cybersecurity is not a new issue for utilities. It received the spotlight in 2021 when President Biden committed to strengthening our Nation’s cybersecurity, specifically by hardening our critical infrastructure. The…

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USDA Rural Development Announces Water and Wastewater Funding

Agriculture Secretary Tom Vilsack announced on October 12, 2021 that the U.S. Department of Agriculture (USDA) is investing $307 million to modernize rural drinking water and wastewater infrastructure for 270,000 people…

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Bic’s Cajun Kitchen

Dwight Johnson, an entrepreneur from Crossett, Arkansas has always had a passion for preparing good food.  As a young kid, he could be found experimenting in the kitchen. As he grew older and had a family of his own, he has…

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Card My Yard – Fayetteville

When Amanda Khanga and her husband Melvin decided to attend an event with family and friends to honor Veteran’s Day, she had no idea just how much being there would change her life. Amanda said that she has always believed…

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Zapata County Texas

Zapata County Texas Communities Unlimited (CU), South Texas Coordinator Raul Gonzalez and Environmental Management Specialist Cesario Vela and Environmental Services Area Director, Harold Hunter have worked with Zapata…

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Roundtable Discussion on America’s Unbanked and Underbanked

Opening Statement by Ines Polonius, Chief Executive Officer of Communities Unlimited, Inc. To U.S. House Select Committee on Economic Disparity and Fairness in Growth For Roundtable Discussion on America’s Unbanked and…

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Moma Keta

Makethia Smith loves the expression, "You’ve got to crawl before you walk". She lives those words every day in her role as the owner of Moma Keta’s Childcare, located in a low-income part of Pine Bluff, Arkansas. Makethia…

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Financing Rural America – National Press Foundation

Biden Admin. Pumps $1.25 billion into Rural LendingBy Sydney Clark, National Press FoundationBiden Admin. Pumps $1.25 Billion into Rural Lending. Community development financial institution experts say CDFIs can help…

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Kay’s Kute Fruit

Kenesha Lewis's life motto, “Life is what you make it, speak life into your life and Make It Happen,” is a true representation of her everyday life. Kenesha, along with her husband Jason, have taken this motto and ran with…

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Extending Sewer Service to over 30 Households in Magnolia Mississippi, Population 2,000

With an RCD grant, Communities Unlimited, Inc. provided technical assistance to help the City of Magnolia, Mississippi, extend sewer service to the North Street area that the city annexed. About 34 households were connected…

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Academic Warriors

Allison Bruning My name is Allison Bruning. I am Appalachian Scot-Irish and German from Marion, Ohio. I am also a second-generation American on my dad’s side. His parents were immigrants from Germany at the…

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Part-Time Gamers Grabs Golden Opportunity Thanks to Reboot Loan

“All failure is failure to adapt, all success is successful adaptation.”   Those are the words of author and business strategist Max McKeown, and those words have never been more true than during a pandemic.  The COVID-19…

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Airport City Executive Center & Catering

Moving an existing business and starting a new business venture can be difficult tasks on their own. Doing both at the same time can be even more difficult. Doing both during a worldwide pandemic can present a myriad of…

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Find the Perfect Balance

While many businesses struggled to survive the COVID-19 pandemic, one Arkansas business actually saw an increase in clients. But that increase, and the pandemic, led to a different set of problems for the business.  Heather…

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Gentle Giant Creative Agency

Communities Unlimited has assisted a variety of small businesses throughout the years, from retail shops to restaurants and caterers. Not all small businesses fit into that mold, but they may still need guidance…

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Cybersecurity and Rural Community Water Systems

Cybersecurity in rural community water systems is important. We know some people are interested in hacking computer systems that control water systems. Hackers attempt to disrupt access to clean, safe drinking water. Desktop…

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INVESTING IN ENTREPRENEURS OF COLOR: A PLAYBOOK FOR ECONOMIC DEVELOPERS

Communities Unlimited (CU) is a non-profit and CDFI that works to unwind generations of inequity and disinvestment in the rural south. CU primarily serves communities of color in the rural regions of Alabama, Arkansas,…

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Lake Tenkiller

The Origin of Tenkiller Utility Authority

In 2003, an idea began to take shape to bring safe drinking water to residents near one of Oklahoma’s most popular recreational lakes. The idea was met with initial enthusiasm by dozens of water systems, but as the…

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We Are The Boot Guys

It’s always a challenge to start a small business, and even more so when you have little to no experience. When William El-Amin and Jakeveeus Davis decided to take an idea and turn it into a business, they faced an uphill…

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Finding The Perfect Balance

While many businesses are struggling to survive the COVID-19 pandemic, one Arkansas business saw an increase in clients. But that increase, and the pandemic, led to a different set of problems for the business. Heather…

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Prepare for the Worst and Hope for the Best while Remaining Vigilant

Prepare for the Worst and Hope for the Best while Remaining Vigilant Threats from domestic extremists and foreign adversaries have increased since the outbreak of the COVID-19 pandemic and as our nation moves…

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A Food Truck With A Fresh Taste

A Food Truck With A Fresh Taste The COVID-19 pandemic devastated small businesses nationwide during most of 2020. Those that survived did so by adapting to the drastic changes brought on by lengthy closures,…

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COVID-19: Rural America’s Opportunity

By Jessica Glendinning, RuralRISE Read the full article by Jessica Glendinning “COVID-19: Rural America’s Opportunity” at https://www.ruralrise.org/covid-19-rural-americas-opportunity/. Ines Polonius,…

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This Self-Taught Farmer Grows Organic Food for His Community

By Jarquita Brown, Higher Purpose Co. and Metta Smith, Communities Unlimited, Inc. Mississippi native, Robbie Pollard began gardening in 2011 and has been officially farming for 8 years in Marks, Mississippi.…

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Urgent & Primary Care Clinic of Clarksdale

Dr. Mary Williams has lived in Clarksdale, Mississippi, her entire life. She worked at the local hospital as a nurse practitioner for over 20 years. When she started Urgent & Primary Care of Clarksdale, there were no…

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Ready for the Future

Hebert is a small community along the banks of the Boeuf River in Caldwell Parish, just south of Monroe, Louisiana. Like most small, rural water systems, much of the operations of the system are placed on the…

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Team Work Helps Ralston PWA Make A Course Correction

The Town of Ralston, Oklahoma serves 145 customers and the Pawnee Rural Water District #5 (RWD). The RWD connects on at the south end of town. During the summer months of 2017, the water system had very low…

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Small Business Loan Helps Brew Success at Cxffeeblack

New ideas are brewing at Cxffeeblack. Courtesy of Cxffeeblack The café was struggling with its customer retention rate. A count of 290 customers showed that only 12 of them returned for a second visit — only a 4% retention…

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Training, Rate Analysis Turn Town Finances Around

GORDON, AL — Communities Unlimited, contacted the Town of Gordon at the request of the Alabama Department of Environmental Management (ADEM) and the United States Department of Agriculture-Rural Development (USDA-RD).  CU…

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Dermott Challenged in Quest for Community Sustainability

DERMOTT, AR — Dermott, Arkansas, had a lot of potential, with good job sources nearby, a large younger population and the desire to improve. But it also had several issues that were subverting its growth potential, and city…

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Sardis Provides Cascade of Products for CU

SARDIS, MS — Sardis is a town with big hearts and a strong sense of community. But like many rural towns, it has struggled in the last few years to maintain its population. The town has lost about 20 percent of its residents…

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The Cake Lady of Warren

Growing up, many little girls played with miniature ovens, turning out small cakes that parents pretended to nibble on, and dreamed of the day they would open their own bakery. While most would grow up and change…

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Bogata Enlist Aid From CU on Many Issues

BOGATA, TX – Often, the work Communities Unlimited performs in one community leads to assistance for another, nearby community. Such is the case of the community of Bogata, Texas (pronounced “bah-GO-dah,” for those…

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Safe Driving

Safe Driving Norman and Marietha Timmerman own Safe Drive Non-Emergency Transportation, LLC, or Safe Drive NEMT. They first opened their business in January of 2020 and began transporting patients the last week of February.…

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Quapaw on Route 66

Quapaw on Route 66 Travelers along Route 66 pass from Kansas into a small town in Oklahoma called Quapaw. Communities Unlimited and Quapaw came together in the mid-2000s. Quapaw needed an alternate water source. The other…

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Brazilian Baker’s Dream Becomes Doce Vida

ALEXANDRIA, LA — Several years ago, Neila Craig went to her husband Sean and told him that she wanted to stay home with the new child they were about to have. That meant their dual-income household would become a single…

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Healthy Communities, Healthy Businesses, Healthy Families

Communities Unlimited, Inc., resides in the space of solutions. We take a community-based — yet regional — approach to solving the challenges that threaten our communities’ survival and provide the resources needed to…

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New Tech Aids Cherry Tree Rural Water District

New Tech Aids Cherry Tree Rural Water District Cherry Tree Rural Water District (RWD) expects a 40% reduction in revenues because of COVID-19. The system serves 268 households, 3 schools and 1 commercial customer. The…

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Farmers, With CU’s Assistance, Find New Clients

Farmers, With CU’s Assistance, Find New Clients By Brenda Williams MID-SOUTH DELTA — The biggest impact seen in the COVID-19 crisis has been to businesses and their employees, with 33 million left unemployed within 3 months…

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Communities Unlimited Responds to COVID-19 Crisis – Side-by-Side with Small Businesses

Side-by-Side with Small Businesses The news has focused on the current impact of COVID-19, including closed schools and businesses. But areas working on community sustainability with Communities Unlimited are already…

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Wing Champs

Wing Champs Lupe Ruiz and Ram Ramirez started Wing Champs in Raymondville, Texas, a rural community of 10,880 with a poverty rate of more than 40%. Wing Champs employs more than 20 people. A significant number for…

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A Place for Kids, a Path to Succeed

For Codney Washington, it’s all about giving back to his community. Codney is a native of Pine Bluff, Arkansas, born and raised. He left after school to start working for Lockheed Martin. The work was rewarding but meant a…

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Working Together Is Better for Everyone

In 2016, the town and school district of Marie, Arkansas, were both fined by the EPA for discharging untreated sewage. The Arkansas Department of Environmental Quality (ADEQ) referred the town to Communities…

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Business Lessons Learned: Credit and Cash Flow

Business Lessons Learned: Credit and Cash Flow Ephraim Woolf, Jr., owns E Woolf Landscape LLC, based in Alexandria, Louisiana. E Woolf Landscape is a full-service landscaping company offering landscape design and…

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Supporting Farmers and Families during COVID-19 Crisis

Supporting Farmers and Families during COVID-19 Crisis COVID-19 has had a devastating impact on many small-scale growers in the Mid-South Delta Region. It has intensified the hunger crisis in the persistent poverty…

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Safeguarding Your System’s Finances

Safe Guarding Your System’s Finances by Gaylene Riley, Community Environmental Management Specialist Every utility system’s management and governing Board wants to believe that their employees are honest, hard-working…

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Reboot Loan Reopens Memphis Salon

REBOOT LOAN REOPENS MEMPHIS SALON Sisters African Hair Braiding in Memphis, TN, owned by Darou Niang, was forced to close on March 22, 2020, as part of a statewide mandated closure of non-essential businesses to prevent the…

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Following the Quilt Trail

For many rural communities, outside dollars aren’t drawn through big investments or large companies moving in. Instead, they rely on tourists drawn by small-town charm and quirky features that make the town…

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Growing Season for Backyard Products

Growing Season for Backyard Products Precautions put in place to slow the spread of the COVID-19 pandemic has been a blow to many businesses. Backyard Landscape Products now Backyard Products has taken this time as an…

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Adaptation, Preparation and PPP Loan: Secrets to Honey Hush’s Success

Shelly Evans, Honey Hush Boutique Adaptation, Preparation and PPP Loan: Secrets to Honey Hush’s Success The Paycheck Payment Protection loan program has given some much needed assistance to small businesses across the…

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The Way Ahead

The Way Ahead The novel coronavirus may force many small businesses under, but strong operators will survive to see a return of the consumer.  The principles of sound business (great customer service, quality…

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Essential Service Employee Identification Letters / Cards for Water – Wastewater Sector

Essential Service Employee Identification Letters / Cards for Water – Wastewater Sector (Emergency Support Function – 3) Water and Wastewater Operators, Maintenance Technicians, and other staff employed or contracted by…

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Coffee Time, 10 Years and Counting

A small Alexandria, LA, coffee shop recently held a big celebration. For the last decade, Tamp & Grind has been a fixture in downtown Alexandria, serving up coffee, live music and good vibes to customers…

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Because Your Business Can’t Wear a Mask

Because Your Business Can’t Wear a Mask Small businesses are beginning to experience significant disruptions because of COVID-19.  The recommended “social distancing” that will save lives is also making…

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You D’Serv Healthy Hair

Some of the best ideas come from ordinary people trying to solve the problems they see every day, but some of them will never be shared if the ideas come from a woman or a minority. Discrimination has been shown…

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Working Capital Loans: Know the Annual Percentage Rate

If you own a small business, you have probably seen the ads for small business loans that offer “quick decisions” or “funds in your account today.” It is easy and quick and tempting…

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New Entrepreneurs ‘Made in America’

What does it mean to be “Made in America?” That’s the question posed to entrepreneurs in a new web series by GoDaddy featuring Communities Unlimited. The “Made in America” series debuted on Friday, Nov. 22, 2019,…

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Farming Is the Life for Me

By Brenda Williams Growing up on her family farm in Glimp, Tennessee, Debra Lockard helped with planting, harvesting and trips to the Scott Street Market in the Binghamton neighborhood of Memphis. The market is…

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Can’t Go Over, Got to Go Around It

Most people do not enjoy their commute to work. It is time they would rather spend doing something else — sometimes, anything else. Then come the added frustrations of traffic jams and the dreaded road…

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