Responsible Growth and Takeaways from Economic Development Forum

By Felicia Woodard, business banking market manager for the Carolinas at Bank of America

In the past 20 years, Wake County has grown by more than half a million people. That’s a gain of 90 percent, which is a much larger increase than the national rate of 18 percent.

To improve as a community, growth is inevitable. We must advance in a strong and sustainable way. At Bank of America, we call that responsible growth.  It’s growing with no excuses but growing the right way.

For this reason and others, we were proud to be the presenting sponsor of the Raleigh Chamber’s Economic Development Forum and be part of this important discussion. We are keenly focused on responsible growth. Our environmental, social and governance (ESG) principles help define how we deliver responsible growth to our clients and to our communities.

During the forum I highlighted two of Bank of America’s strategic initiatives related to responsible growth. First, our enterprise-wide capital deployment initiative helps unlock the necessary financing to address local challenges related to affordable housing, healthcare, education and other critical areas. A recent example of this was a $1.25 million capital loan to our good friends at Habitat for Humanity in Durham.  At a 1% interest rate, they will utilize the capital to fund some much-needed infrastructure in response to their affordable housing needs.  We work with local CDFI’s through the Tory Burch Foundation to help female small business owners access the capital they need to grow their businesses.  As one of the world’s largest banks, we’re in a unique position to mobilize capital to drive global and local change.

We also seek to address issues fundamental to economic mobility, as we help build sustainable communities. Our economic mobility investments help move individuals and communities forward through workforce readiness, community development and basic needs. We develop partnerships with nonprofits and public sector organizations and support long-term pathways to success. In 2018 alone, we invested more than $1,000,000 and 6,200 volunteer hours into the nonprofit community here in the Triangle.  By bringing together our collective networks and expertise to help fuel economic and social progress, Bank of America can help further responsible, sustainable growth.

During the Raleigh Chamber’s economic development forum, attendees had the opportunity to hear from great speakers and other organizations who have joined this discussion about our future. Ted Abernathy, managing partner for Economic Leadership, delivered an excellent keynote and helped us explore the path of Wake County and the Triangle for the next 20 years. He shared his key trends of 1) acceleration, 2) disruption, 3) connectivity and 4) complexity.

We all clearly see the trajectory of our market, as well as the work ahead to ensure we continue to advance responsibly.



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