In her role as an OB-GYN, Pamela Lacy uncovered a small-but-growing niche market in eastern Mississippi: The pregnant women in this rural part of the state were driving to nearby Alabama to buy maternity clothes. That changed in June 2015 when Lacy opened the Mom 2 Be retail store in Columbus, Ohio.
She secured funding for the store through a loan from Renasant Bank that was funded by an Economic Development Program (EDP) advance from the Federal Home Loan Bank of Dallas (FHLB Dallas). In conjunction with the loan, Lacy also received a $6,750 EDP grant from FHLB Dallas.
“The presence of an Air Force base and universities here means we have many young couples, some of whom are starting their families,” Lacy said. “Moms-to-be had to go online or drive to Alabama, which is about 45 minutes to an hour away. People told me, “Someone needs to do this, and then I decided, I’ll do it!”
She used the grant to purchase inventory, which she said would have been more limited if she had not received the EDP funds.
“The grant helped me have a variety of products that women need and want,” she said. Mom 2 Be carries items for nursing and newborns, as well as maternity clothing, and baby shower gifts. The new store created two part-time jobs in this community of more than 23,000 people. The retail store also created an online shop at www.mom2bematernity.com, which gets customers from all over the United States.
Phyllis Drope, senior vice president and Funds Management officer at Renasant Bank, said Lacy was well-suited for the EDP advance and EDP grant programs.
“As an experienced medical professional, Dr. Lacy had extensive knowledge of the maternity market,” Ms. Drope explained. “With the assistance and training provided by the Small Business Development Center (SBDC) at Mississippi State University, Renasant Bank felt that Dr. Lacy was a perfect candidate for the programs.”
Deborah Scott, director of the Mississippi State University SBDC, assisted Lacy with the development of the Mom 2 Be business plan.
“Our support included providing resources for market, demographic, and industry research, financial structure/guidance for her projections, and more,” Ms. Scott said. “The EDPPlus grant program from FHLB Dallas is a great option for a small business to finance its startup enterprise while still using the resources of the local banking community.”
In 2015, FHLB Dallas made $1 million available for EDP grants, assisting 50 small businesses in the Bank’s five-state District of Arkansas, Louisiana, Mississippi, New Mexico, and Texas. In Mississippi, EDP grants totaling $205,955 were awarded to 10 small businesses.
The grants are awarded in conjunction with EDP advances and are available on a first-come, first-served basis to promote and enhance small-business development and job creation.
Greg Hettrick, vice president and director of Community Investment at FHLB Dallas, said the EDP advance and grant program support economic development activities, which improve the quality of life in communities.
“We have seen over and over again how EDP grants create win-win scenarios for communities,” he said. “This is a differentiator for our members, who can offer something other financial institutions cannot. Plus, it enhances each small business in some way, as in funding additional inventory, better finish-out, or to be used as working capital.”