The Times and Democrat
By: Gene Zaleski
July 14, 2012
July 14--Keylon Singleton says life's obligations have kept him busy over the past few years, hindering his ability to do what he has always wanted: to start a small business.
"This is the first time I have been able to find time," Singleton said. "I had to deal with school and taking care of family."
On top of his studies at South Carolina State University as digital media major, Singleton also helped run the Orangeburg Area Boys and Girls Club at Roosevelt Gardens.
He also took some time off over the past few years to work in major media markets such as New York, Miami and Atlanta as a photographer, videographer and graphic designer.
Now, Singleton wants to start up his own Orangeburg studio where he will aim to serve the community and teach others who are interested in photography and graphic design.
But Singleton has never run a business or a non-profit organization -- both projects he is hoping the newly formed Orangeburg non-profit New America Corporation is going to help him accomplish.
"It is hard to get everything organized when you are doing other projects. I have not had time to sit down and develop a full business plan," he said.
New America is setting out to help aspiring entrepreneurs in Orangeburg County who need capital to start a new business.
The program, known as the Business Individual Development Account, is a matched savings account designed to help prospective business owners establish a pattern of regular saving so they will be able to use the accumulated funds and match money toward a small business.
New America will supplement the savings IDA participants earn with a 3:1 match. Thus, for every one dollar a participant saves, New America will contribute an additional three dollars.
Singleton said the company will put up about $3,000 and he will be responsible for about $1,000.
"The vitality of a community depends greatly on the strength of its business community, value of education, access to safe and affordable housing and support to provide quality of life opportunities," said Adolphus Johnson, founder and president of New America. "Through our many programs and services, New America is committed to working with Orangeburg County and city leaders, its businesses and its communities to help ensure the Garden City is a great place to live, work and play."
Located at 1747 Amelia St., New America is funded through a U.S. Department of Agriculture Rural Business Enterprise grant.
Charles Dowling has been an Orangeburg small business owner for almost 22 years, operating Dowling Investigations, LLC.
But Dowling says learning is never over in life, especially for a small business owner.
"I am always in a position where I can gain more knowledge about business and industry," Dowling said. "It is a good program where you gain knowledge on one side and there will be available funds on the other side."
Dowling said for just a $50 fee for textbooks, the program paid for itself. He will use the $3,000 in seed money New America provides to upgrade equipment.
"The program should have been here several years ago," Dowling said. "It is a program you can benefit from."
Singleton appreciates the information he's received in the classes.
"They answered a lot of questions I had about starting up a business," he said.
The first class included information on credit repair, accounting fraud and identification fraud. Another taught about starting a business plan.
Beyond helping prospective small business men and women, NAC also specializes in affordable housing.
NAC has also opened Fairlawn Townhomes at Fair Street. The townhomes have three bedrooms and one bath, an open kitchen, living room and dining area floor plan.
New America has received recognition for its contributions. The South Carolina Association of Community Development Corporations presented New America the Eagle Award of Excellence in Community Economic Development, which honors organizations statewide for excellence in advancing economic development in South Carolina communities.