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Museum to Open for 50th Anniversary of Sit-In at Historic N.C. Woolworth Lunch Counter
GREENSBORO, N.C.--(BUSINESS WIRE)-- Construction of the International Civil Rights Center & Museum (Museum) in Greensboro, N.C., recently received a much needed financial injection from U.S. Bancorp Community Development Corporation (USBCDC), which provided tax credit equity financing that combined $28 million of New Markets Tax Credit (NMTC) allocation authority from its Community Development Entity (CDE) USBCDE, LLC and partner CDE Stonehenge Community Development, LLC (Stonehenge). USBCDC’s tax credit equity financing will fill a critical funding gap after more than a decade of fundraising and building to ensure the Museum opens on February 1, 2010, commemorating the 50th anniversary of the Greensboro sit-in when four African-American freshmen from North Carolina A&T University sat down at a “white’s-only” lunch counter. Their courageous actions sparked a movement which defined a battle for equality, justice, and civil rights in America.
Acquisition and construction financing for the project included various private equity sources that blended funding from state and federal Historic Tax Credits (HTCs) and NMTCs. According to Marc Hirshman, USBCDC senior vice president and director of NMTC, HTC, and Renewable Energy ITC investments, the capital injection is the result of USBCDC’s purchase of NMTCs from Stonehenge and USBCDE, LLC. Hirshman explained that the NMTC Program, which is administered through the Community Development Financial Institutions Fund (CDFI Fund) by the U.S. Department of the Treasury, serves as a catalyst to encourage investment of private equity capital into urban and rural, low-income communities and allows tax paying investors to receive a credit against federal income taxes for making equity investments in designated CDEs. The Museum qualifies for the program because it is located in a transitioning destabilized area and holds the designation of an historic landmark.
“U.S. Bank is proud to help bring this project to life, along with its significant social, cultural and historic implications,” said Hirshman. “The NMTC Program is designed for projects like the International Civil Rights Center & Museum, as it will attract thousands of visitors to Greensboro who will patronize restaurants, hotels, and numerous downtown shops. This increased investment will create a more stable, livable downtown community.”
Ronald Newsome, director of Stonehenge, said, “This Museum fits within our mission of investing in non-profit community service businesses that have significant minority impact on low income communities. In addition to the jobs and business opportunities generated by the Museum, this investment will help other retail and service businesses in downtown Greensboro benefit from the emerging Heritage Tourism market and will further advance Greensboro as a destination point.”
Visitors to the Museum will explore 30,000 square feet of educational exhibits and period artifacts from the civil rights era. The Museum’s centerpiece will be the historic lunch counter and original stools where the Greensboro Four (David Richmond, Ezell Blair, Jr., Franklin McCain and Joseph McNeil) sat down in nonviolent protest on Feb. 1, 1960. Filmed reenactments of the nearly six-month sit-in campaign will offer a realistic 1960 lunch counter experience for Museum guests. In totality, the Museum will encompass 43,000 square feet and function as an archival center, collecting museum, and teaching facility devoted to international struggle for civil and human rights.
According to Amelia Parker, Museum Director, the project is expected to create in excess of 100 jobs during construction with an additional 30 artisans and technicians assigned to installation, design, and fabrication, and full time staff of more than 15 permanent jobs. The Freelon Group, one of the largest minority-owned architectural firms in the country, is leading the restoration of the F.W. Woolworth building and Museum construction.
Located in the historic 1929 F.W. Woolworth building, the International Civil Rights Center & Museum was destined to become a parking lot in 1993. A vision of preserving Civil Rights history prompted two Greensboro activists, Guilford County Commissioner Melvin ‘Skip’ Alston and N.C. State Rep. Earl Jones, to co-found Sit-In Movement, Inc. and initiate fundraising to purchase the building. Their vision was to convert it into a multipurpose facility that would include, among other things, a civil rights museum and library, classrooms, a bookstore, along with the restored historic lunch counter. Significant progress had been made, with support along the way from the City of Greensboro, the North Carolina General Assembly, Guilford County Commission as well as the foundation, business communities and other major donors. While completion of the final two stages of the project is underway, additional funds both from Stonehenge and U.S. Bank are critical to completing the job during this difficult economic time.
About U.S. Bank and U.S. Bancorp Community Development Corporation (USBCDC)
With assets of over $6 billion, USBCDC finances community development and affordable housing projects through the use of New Markets Tax Credits, Historic Tax Credits, Low-Income Housing Tax Credits, and Investment Tax Credits in Renewable Energy. USBCDC is the largest New Markets Tax Credit investor in the country, investing billions of dollars nationwide in hundreds of transactions. These equity investments have provided much needed revitalization and new resources to communities throughout the country. USBCDC is a subsidiary of U.S. Bank and U.S. Bancorp (NYSE: USB). The company operates 2,850 banking offices and 5,183 ATMs in 24 states, and provides a comprehensive line of banking, brokerage, insurance, investment, mortgage, trust and payment services products to consumers, businesses and institutions. Visit U.S. Bancorp on the web at www.usbank.com
About the International Civil Rights Center & Museum
For more information about the International Civil Rights Center & Museum’s grand opening and schedule of events, please visit www.sitinmovement.org/savethedate.
About Stonehenge Community Development, LLC (Stonehenge)
Stonehenge is a subsidiary of Stonehenge Capital Company, LLC created to provide flexible forms of debt, equity and mezzanine financing to businesses located in low-income communities nationwide. Stonehenge, a three time NMTC allocatee, invests in Non-real Estate QALICBs in areas of greater distress. Stonehenge is focused on small businesses and non-profit community services businesses that have significant minority impact. Visit Stonehenge Capital Company on the web at www.stonehengecapital.com.
About the New Markets Tax Credit Program (NMTC Program)
Created in 2000, the NMTC Program is administered by the U.S. Treasury Department’s Community Development Financial Institutions Fund (CDFI Fund). The NMTC Program serves as a catalyst to encourage investment of private capital in urban and rural low-income communities, allowing tax paying investors to receive a credit against federal income taxes for making equity investments in designated Community Development Entities (CDEs). To date, the CDFI Fund has made awards totaling $21 billion in allocation authority.
U.S. Bank Media Relations
Lisa H. Clark, 609-877-7517
Source: U.S. Bank
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