Established in 1999 by Wendell Whitlock, Progress Trust Inc. is a non-profit community development corporation. Its first redevelopment project was Progress Plaza Shopping Center in North Central Philadelphia, a large retail center in need of complete rehabilitation.
When financing proved to be the biggest obstacle, Progress Trust Inc. turned to NPF. “Majority banks don’t want to invest in the inner city unless it’s an opportunity to gentrify,” says Wendell. In contrast, Progress Trust Inc. sought to create a retail center that would serve the needs of the people that live there, bringing a much needed full-service supermarket to the area in addition to retail and office space.
“With NPF, it was easier to communicate. They are here in our community, we are part of their mission. There is a synergy you don’t get with majority banks.”
The project’s impact on the community was felt through Wendell’s persistence that the construction team consist mostly of qualified African American workers. It is Progress Trust Inc.’s priority to advance and maximize minority participation in every venture. “I was born and raised in Philadelphia, living most of my life here. I can say that seeing mostly minority people accomplish this project was one of the most profound experiences.”
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