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At Rise, Terrell Carter Aims To ‘Come Alongside’ Local Communities Dreaming Big

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Evie Hemphill
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St. Louis Public Radio
Terrell Carter joined host Sarah Fenske on Wednesday's "St. Louis on the Air."

Terrell Carter has served the St. Louis region in a multitude of ways — as a police officer, pastor, academic and more. And multiple aspects of those professional endeavors all play a role in his latest effort: addressing affordable housing needs in the region.

“My goal was to learn as much as I could, in as many diverse ways as possible, which truthfully went against what other people told me. People said, ‘No, you need to figure out one thing and only do that one thing well,’” Carter told St. Louis on the Air.

He explained that being a police officer taught him how to be calm under pressure and not get flustered. As a construction worker and carpenter's apprentice, he learned what it takes to build buildings and physically change neighborhoods. He most recently served as vice president and chief diversity officer at Greenville University, overseeing “the largest budget that I've ever run and the most employees that I've ever supervised.”

In March, Carter became the executive director of the nonprofit Rise Community Development. And on Wednesday’s St. Louis on the Air, he joined host Sarah Fenske to talk about his vision for the local community development organization.

He explained that Rise helps allocate financial and community resources for those who want to build homes or centers in communities. Ultimately, organizations, municipalities, cities and neighborhood groups are all involved in the process.

At Rise, Terrell Carter Aims To ‘Come Alongside’ Local Communities Dreaming Big

“We value partnerships; we recognize the expertise that people who live in that community bring to the table,” Carter said.

He went on to detail how Rise helps fund houses and commercial properties developed and built in various communities:

“If an organization doesn't have the capacity, say, that we have — they don't have as many employees and they don't have as much experience as we do — we will come alongside them and help them learn the things they need to learn in order to do what it is they want to do or [are] being asked to do to help equip them, and also to help them find resources as well.”

He noted that Rise is a community development financial institution and that its goal is different from a typical bank, with a focus on lending to people and entities “that may not traditionally qualify for traditional lending.”

“For example, we will fund small minority- and women-owned businesses,” Carter explained. “We will also fund developers or portions of development projects in particular communities and neighborhoods.

“Because we are a CDFI, we have certain regulations — all the positive, wonderful things that help people know they can trust us, but we also have a certain level of flexibility that a Bank of America does not have.”

St. Louis on the Air” brings you the stories of St. Louis and the people who live, work and create in our region. The show is hosted by Sarah Fenske and produced by Alex Heuer, Emily Woodbury, Evie Hemphill and Lara Hamdan. The audio engineer is Aaron Doerr.

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Lara is a producer for "St. Louis on the Air" at St. Louis Public Radio.

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