Bill Bynum is the founder and CEO of HOPE (Hope Enterprise Corporation and Hope Credit Union), a community development financial institution established in 1994. He has advised Presidents Clinton, Bush and Obama on community development while serving as a Chairman for the U.S. Treasury Department’s Community Development Advisory Board. He currently serves as Chairperson of the Consumer Financial Protection Bureau’s Consumer Advisory Board. Bynum has received several honors including National Entrepreneur of the Year (Ernst & Young/Kauffman Foundation), Ned Gramlich Award for Responsible Finance (Opportunity Finance Network) and Annie Vamper Helping Hands Award (National Federation of Community Development Credit Unions). Today, HOPE is highly regarded as a financial institution and policy institute that advocates economic inclusion across Mississippi, Arkansas, Louisiana and Tennessee and influences related policies and practices nationwide.
Generally, capital is more difficult to access in the Mississippi River Delta region – which includes parts of Mississippi, Louisiana and Arkansas – than in other areas of the Southeast, because it is home to many underdeveloped, rural communities that investors don’t find attractive.
Many minority business owners live and work in rural regions like the Delta where access to capital is limited.
Bringing traditional financial services back to low-income areas will stimulate economic growth by giving entrepreneurs the opportunity to build equity.
Community Development Programs, like the New Market Tax Credit Program, are a good way to bring capital to areas deemed less desirable, like the Delta.
With a growing and diverse population, the Delta offers strong business opportunities for entrepreneurs who can think creatively about sourcing the capital they need.
Glenn Oken is a managing director at Mangrove Equity Partners in Tampa, FL, where he focuses on originating deal opportunities and qualifying acquisition candidates. Glenn has been a private equity investor focusing on the lower middle market for 27 years and has completed 129 transactions across 57 different niche industries.
For lower middle market companies in Florida, there are no longer geographic barriers. Money is willing to travel.
However, capital for startup companies may more commonly find seed funding through local angel groups and investors. Once they prove their business model they tend to attract interest from local investors, or from the start-up focused areas of the country.
Face-to-face meetings are essential in M&A deals. While numbers are important, relationships are key. In-person meetings give both sides an opportunity to assess the character of a potential partner.
As equity partners seek out lower middle-market companies, they look for those whose products or services are essential, non-cyclical and non-commoditized. Often, this ends up being companies with some measure of engineering content, customization, or technical capability who offer mission-critical products or services.
Thanks to the strength of the manufacturing and industrial services sector, the South may be one of the best regions for investors focused on those industry categories.
The M&A market has not yet seen a sudden mass exit by Baby Boomers. Multiple factors, not just age, are involved in an exit decision. Thus, deal volume seems to have followed a natural cycle over the years, rather than a sudden deluge of exiting Baby Boomers.
Bobby Pearce is an attorney with Smith Moore Leatherwood and the co-managing partner of the firm’s Charleston office. His practice includes mergers and acquisitions, corporate law, private securities offerings and shareholder disputes.
Pearce has an entrepreneurial background, having started or invested in multiple companies, and since 1984, he’s spent a great deal of time working on economic development initiatives for the state of South Carolina and the Charleston area.
There is a broad chasm in South Carolina between investors with money and companies seeking to raise funds. With a shortage of mid-market companies that have the longer-term, proven track record that most investors are seeking, capital often is being left sitting on the sidelines.
Established companies, especially with EBITDA of $2 million and above, now have many more options for capital.
Charleston is on a fast growth track with its commercial and industrial base of companies; the number of home-grown and recruited successful, mid-market companies is expected to grow exponentially over the coming years.
The snowballing growth of mid-market companies in this region will lead to many more successful exits and then much more capital being reinvested into new companies in the Lowcountry of South Carolina, creating a self-fulfilling cycle of formation, growth and corporate and investor success.
Tech-savvy and creative millennials are migrating to Charleston at a rapidly accelerating rate because of its livability, coastal amenities, historic charm and now high-impact work opportunities. The region is one of the top 17 fastest-growing metro areas in the U.S. and is experiencing some growing pains, having to explore infrastructure options to better accommodate the increasing influx of people and businesses.
Boeing’s new multi-billion dollar aircraft manufacturing and assembly plant here has spurred an explosive growth of investment in the Charleston region’s aerospace and aviation cluster. Daimler just announced its plans to grow the region’s automotive cluster by building a Sprinter plant, which will complement the already-existing defense, tourism and health care industry clusters.
South Carolina’s highly-integrated, 16-campus technical education college system has greatly helped to attract Boeing and other companies to the state and the region. This system offers unparalleled industry-specific training and education and thus provides a steady stream of well-trained, qualified employees, which most other states cannot provide.