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O’Keefe is a deal that is big this little city when you look at the heart associated with Mississippi Delta. As soon as house to millionaire cotton farmers, Clarksdale is, just like the remaining portion of the Delta, about 80% African United states. Its populace around 16,000 to 18,000 individuals, happens to be decreasing for many years.
Bubba O’Keefe, supported by Southern Bancorp CEO Darrin Williams, assesses damage in Paramount Theater . [+] from the phase.
Credit: Devin Thorpe
A man that is white a largely black city, O’Keefe may be the city’s official, compensated manager of tourism and generally seems to understand everybody in the city, including almost all of the instantly visitors. He greets everyone who passes by as we sit and chat on the sidewalk outside the small bistro in one of his buildings, an old Woolworth’s store that had sat empty for decades.
While he’s at no chance of being put into the Forbes 400 list any time soon, O’Keefe is successful by the requirements associated with the city. He owns more structures than he is able to count here. He keeps the tips to their many structures within an old bank deposit bag; you can find a large number of sets of tips. He states he’s got ten or twelve loans with Southern Bancorp, such as the one in the Paramount.
O’Keefe sees the city in much the way that is same he views the movie movie theater using the roof timbers now seated in a stack where a gathering ought to be. he’s confident that the roof could be fixed, plus the movie movie theater may be restoredвЂ”or if you don’t restored, repurposed.
The Paramount Theater roof seated when you look at the market
Credit: Devin Thorpe
вЂњi might want to believe that it really is a doing arts center.вЂќ He’d prefer to name it for playwright Tennessee Williams whom saw their very first film in the Paramount. Nevertheless, he is perhaps perhaps perhaps not married to that particular eyesight. He seems confident that the right strategy or possibility will sooner or later arrive at him.
There was some proof of serendipity when you look at the noticeable financial data recovery well underway right right here in Clarksdale, one of the locations that lay claim to being your home associated with blues.
An experienced marketer from Chicago, decided after visiting Clarksdale regularly for years to move here permanently in 2002, Roger Stolle. He opened the Cat Head music shop downtown and straight away started marketing the city and its own music.
Roger Stolle , owner of Cat Head
Credit: Devin Thorp[e
He says, when live blues music would be playing in town when he arrived, no one seemed to know. Many nights, there was clearlyn’t any. During the period of years, he organized all of the venues in the city with an easy quid pro quo. When they would agree to a routine of real time music, he’d market it. Today, you’ll experience music that is live one of many venues in the city 365 evenings per year.
Now, Ben Lewis stumbled on city from Seattle to just take a residential district development role for an one-year state agreement and fell deeply in love with the city, despite the fact that their spouse stated before learning in which the brand brand new possibility had been that she could live any place in the nation except Mississippi. Her moms and dads have actually bought a home that is second Clarksdale and their parents are buying a permanent house in the city.
Lewis, whom now earns a modest wage operating a nonprofit called Meraki Roasting that can help youth in Clarksdale develop task skills and an application by utilizing them to roast coffee, was just in a position to purchase a house because Southern Bancorp underwrites home loans so it does not offer regarding the additional market, offering the lender the flexibleness to produce loans other people can not.
The financial institution is definitely an essential thread in this development tapestry that is economic. Another may be the Walton Family Foundation; 350 kilometers from Clarksdale, the inspiration has made financial development in the Delta a focus area. The 2 organizations usually work together, often by accident. For example, the inspiration is really a source that is significant of for Maraki Roasting, meaning that it indirectly made the home loan Southern Bancorp offered its executive manager, Ben Lewis, feasible.
O’Keefe, and a lifelong buddy, Chuck Rutledge, organized a complex community development project in Clarksdale that received financing from both the Walton Family Foundation and Southern Bancorp. The Travelers resort, (where I remained for approximately $100 for just one evening) which can be operated by the music artists’ cooperative led by Rutledge along with his partner Ann Williams, is owned with a nonprofit. The $2.4 million task had been funded by a mixture of taxation credits for historic renovation, a grant through the Walton Family Foundation and a home loan from Southern Bancorp.
Chuck Rutledge and Ann Williams outside of the Travelers resort in Clarksdale, Mississippi
Credit: Devin Thorpe
The financial institution plays a role that is important the city for customers aswell. Jennifer Williams, no regards to Ann or Darrin, is just a trained instructor in Clarksdale with three levels. This woman is additionally a survivor of the storefront that is thriving lending industry in Mississippi.
Williams claims she found myself in a taut spot years back and borrowed $400 from a payday mortgage lender. Every thirty days, she had been needed to provide by by by herself in individual to pay for $87.50 to move the mortgage over for another 30 daysвЂ”with none of the quantity serving to cut back the balance. That amount on a credit card to have a minimum payment of about $87.50 each monthвЂ”that would include at least some principal by comparison, it would not be unusual for a balance of ten times.
And in addition, Williams discovered by herself slowly going under. Her financial status simply proceeded to have even even worse as she started taking out fully more payday advances. In the long run, she had applied for nine such loans from various storefront payday lenders in three towns. Simply driving around to help make the payments ended up being like having a job that is part-time.
Jennifer Williams and Charlestien Harris