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Columbia Urban League Gateway Center

Press Release For Immediately Release

Wednesday, September 30, 2020

Contact: James T. McLawhor, Jr. Phone: 803-929-1040


Columbia Urban League Gateway Center

COLUMBIA, S.C. – (September 30, 2020) – The Columbia Urban League today announced it had received a $100,000 donation from South State Bank that will support the opening of the Gateway Empowerment Center. "Founded during the Great Depression in rural South Carolina, South State Bank understands the importance of supporting communities across the Palmetto State," said James T. McLawhorn, Jr., president and chief executive officer of the Columbia Urban League. "Because of this donation, many underserved and disadvantaged citizens will have access to small business development tools, job certification programs, healthcare information, money management, and homeownership training, and other vital resources through partnerships with agencies.

The primary purpose of the Gateway Empowerment Center is to improve the social and economic status of African Americans and disadvantaged and underserved communities by attacking the cycle of poverty and thereby enhancing the well-being of these communities. This Center will promote small business development through business incubation and mentorship, job development through apprenticeships and other skill certification programs, money management, homeownership training, health care, and other services needed to ensure the social and economic well-being of families. The Center will use a collaborative approach partnering with Apprenticeship Carolina and other workforce and business development institutions.

A recent report by McKinsey & Company indicated that this Pandemic disproportionately affects minority-issues that make it harder to run and scale successfully. Additionally, they are more likely concentrated in industries most immediately affected by the Pandemic.

Also, low skills industries that employ many African Americans and minority jobs are becoming extinct due to automation and technology. We must assist this group in obtaining post-secondary education and skill certification credentials.

According to an article by Jamie Meirsotis, president and CEO of the Lumina Foundation, entitled Human Work in the Age of Smart Machines, workers' role is being transformed—and often rendered obsolete— by automation and artificial intelligence.

The Gateway Empowerment Center will be located at 2805 Main Street in Columbia at Main and North Main Street. This property was donated to the League by Bank of America. This Center is located in the heart of a vibrant economic development area, at the corner of North Main Street and Anthony Street, that will position the League for long term growth and sustainability.

The Columbia Urban League is a non-profit, non-partisan, and interracial community-based organization empowering African Americans, underserved and disadvantaged persons in becoming productive and contributing members of society. Established in 1967, the Columbia Urban League is an affiliate of the National Urban League.

We will hold a press conference on Thursday, October 1, 2020, 3:30 p.m. at 2805 North Main Street

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