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  • Cathy O’Connor

Progress OKC celebrates five years of impact

Five years ago this month, the Alliance for Economic Development for Oklahoma City founded Progress OKC as a Community Development Corporation. Its purpose was to be an economic and social resource that spurs investment and development in areas of Oklahoma City that have traditionally been under-resourced or disinvested. As a CDC, Progress OKC develops and manages affordable housing, supports small and minority-owned businesses and other revitalization activities. The cornerstone of the organization’s success has been its collaborations with residents and partners.

One of Progress OKC’s first projects was grant writing and fundraising for the renovations of the auditorium at the Douglass into a premier performing arts and community meeting venue. Today, Page Woodson is a mixed-use space of affordable apartments, community meeting space and an auditorium, home for performances, celebrations, community meetings and events.

With support from the city of Oklahoma City and Inasmuch Foundation, Progress OKC redeveloped an entire block in the Culbertson’s East Highland neighborhood. Nine quality single-family homes were built, of which seven were sold to income eligible individuals or families as part of the city of Oklahoma City’s Affordable Housing Program. These homes will contribute to sustainable homeownership, a major vehicle for building wealth and economic opportunity.

In 2018, Progress OKC partnered with the McLaughlin Family Foundation and the Oklahoma City Parks & Recreation Department to revitalize Lightning Creek Park and create new soccer fields in an underutilized patch of weeds in southwest Oklahoma City.

As COVID took its toll on small businesses, Progress OKC responded with the Building Businesses Back Better (B4) program to help small Oklahoma City businesses. Sponsored by JPMorgan Chase, B4 connects small businesses in need of technical assistance with consultants who provide human resources, marketing and financial services to help the business recover.

In 2021, Progress OKC launched the KIVA OKC lending program to help entrepreneurs and small businesses access low-barrier, micro loans. The Oklahoma City program is hitting its goals and has already fully funded 18 local businesses with nearly $100,000 in total loans. Most of those were funded by individual lenders willing to loan as little as $25 to help an entrepreneur with a great idea. There are four local entrepreneurs raising funds now, so you can visit Progress OKC to make a micro loan and help a local business owner.


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