In the early 1970s, Betty Smith was a young mother on maternity leave from Eastman Chemical Co. In order to be closer to her children during the day, she got a job at the Play Center where she could work and be with her children, too. Through the years, she progressed up the ranks at the Center, ultimately becoming the sole owner of the business in 1987.
The Play Center was dealt several blows when the local economy faltered in the late 1990s. As jobs were lost, enrollment at local day care centers declined. At one point, enrollment at the facility which can handle up to 150 children was down to less than 30. Ms. Smith began to fall behind on payments to her creditors and felt the need to do something drastic to save the business.
With seemingly nowhere to turn, Ms. Smith sought assistance from the local Chamber of Commerce. Representatives from the local Chamber referred Ms. Smith to Southeast Community Capital (SCC), a Community Development Financial Institution, which was in the process of opening an office in downtown Kingsport.
In less than 15 days, Southeast Community Capital was able to provide Ms. Smith with technical assistance, the term debt financing necessary to prevent a pending foreclosure, and a working capital line of credit to help her grow the business.
Today, the Play Center has nearly 140 children enrolled and has room to expand to accommodate more children. Ms. Smith is thankful for everyone that helped her along the way, especially the staff at SCC. According to Ms. Smith, “SCC had wonderful people behind me all the way. And they’re there for anyone in our community not just for me.”