COLUMBIA, S.C. (courtesy allenuniversity.edu) — The Benedict-Allen Community Development Corporation (Benedict-Allen CDC) continues to impact Columbia residents as it strives to tackle affordable housing for those who need it most. The non-profit organization marked its 25th anniversary with a virtual celebration with an abundance of community support on April 22.
U.S. Secretary of Housing and Urban Development Marcia Fudge gave special remarks and Democratic National Committee Chair Jaime Harrison was the keynote speaker. Dr. Ernest McNealey, Allen University president, and Dr. Roslyn Artis, president of Benedict College, were featured throughout the virtual celebration. Dr. David Swinton, founder of the Benedict-Allen CDC and 13th president of Benedict College, also spoke on community involvement with the CDC and area revitalization efforts through property acquisitions.
According to the CDC 25th Anniversary Chair/Board member Emma McGraw Myers, “This 25th Anniversary Celebration is not only a historic milestone for the Midlands but also for Allen University and Benedict College. It demonstrates the significance of partnerships and the added value that collaborations bring to improve the well-being of the communities and quality of life to the people served.”
Founded in 1996, Benedict-Allen CDC is one of the oldest in the country that is operated by HBCUs. The CDC continues to promote residential and commercial revitalization by seeking and providing resources for the acquisition, renovation, and redevelopment of substandard properties. It also aims to promote community development especially in the Waverly, Edgewood-Read, and Ridgewood Communities. A primary objective of the CDC is to serve as a catalyst for improvement by combining public and private resources to accomplish common goals. The CDC seeks to revitalize commercial corridors as proposed in the City of Columbia Master Plan.
The April 22 virtual celebration honored local leaders with Community Impact Awards: Nate Barber, retired, South State Bank/CDC Board member, Steve Benjamin, Mayor, City of Columbia, Dr. Lady June Cole, former Allen University president/former CDC board member, E. W. Cromartie, former City Council/former CDC Board member, Jocelyn Jennings, retired, Richland County Community Development, Rev. Johnny Ray Noble, Ph.D., CDC Board Member, Larry Salley, former CDC executive director, Joyce L. Seabrook, former CDC executive assistant, Dalton Tresvant II, field representative for Rep. James Clyburn, and Dr. Ruby W. Watts, CDC founding board member. Dr. David H. Swinton, former Benedict president and founding CDC board chairman, received the Visionary Award. Brenda Oliver, board vice chair, was honored with the Chairman’s Award.
Steve Benjamin, mayor of Columbia, presented the CDC a proclamation declaring April 22, 2021, as the Benedict-Allen Community Development Corporation Day in the City of Columbia marking the celebration of the CDC’s 25 years of success to the Midlands and acknowledging the vital impact of the organization.
The Board of Directors consists of various community stakeholders, including neighborhood residents, the president of Benedict College, the president of Allen University, college staff, community, and business leaders.
A recording of the virtual celebration is available at Allen University’s YouTube channel.