Driving Economic Opportunity in California’s “Inland Empire”

Driving Economic Opportunity in California’s “Inland Empire”

OFN Member Relations

Highlighting Woman-led OFN Member AmPac in San Bernardino County

Hilda Kennedy is founder and CEO of AmPac Business Capital, an OFN member CDFI based in California’s San Bernardino County. Raised in South Central Los Angeles, Kennedy knows the diversity and disparities that characterize the broader Southern California region. She founded AmPac Business Capital after seeing how the heavily Latino Riverside and San Bernadino Counties, known as the “Inland Empire,” struggled economically in comparison to coastal counties. 

As OFN celebrates Women’s History Month, we highlight Kennedy’s leadership and the CDFI she founded to fuel economic development and create jobs in San Bernardino County.

Spotlight on AmPac Founder and President Hilda Kennedy 

Kennedy’s professional journey began with a fellowship at the Coro Foundation in New York City, where she completed a study for congressional staffers on how the U.S. can provide quality, affordable healthcare to all Americans. Following her fellowship, Hilda spent 12 years working in local government and community lending.  

As the director of economic and business development for the City of Inglewood, Kennedy established and implemented a $45 million loan fund with funds from the U.S. Department of Housing and Urban Development and matching funds from Federal Home Loan Bank of San Francisco member banks. During her time in Inglewood, she also served as chief of staff to the mayor and the city administrator and as the city’s public information officer, where she was involved in coordinating city-wide events. 

Kennedy founded AmPac in 2007, where today she serves as inspiring leader to approximately 30 staff members. In a recent conversation with OFN staff, Kennedy talked about the challenges the region faces with funding, specifically, how the Inland Empire region often gets overlooked for philanthropic dollars in favor of the more popular Los Angeles and San Diego Counties.  

She spoke passionately about a key strength of CDFIs – their ability to offer more creative, flexible, tailored financing options than traditional banks, coupled with technical assistance (At OFN, we call that “capital plus.”). For example, AmPac rewards small business owners with reduced interest rates and reimbursement grants if they participate in AmPac training programs. 

In 2017 AmPac received funding through Wells Fargo Diverse Community Capital program managed by OFN. In 2021, the CDFI also received grant funding through U.S. Treasury CDFI Fund Rapid Response Program award, and as well as a CDFI Fund Financial Assistance award in 2020. 

AmPac team

As the first faith-based U.S. Small Business Administration (SBA) 504 lender, AmPac has hosted the Connecting Faith & Business Summit for more than 14 years. The summit brings business and faith-based leaders together for education, inspiration, and values-based networking.

To date, AmPac has served over 450 businesses, deployed more than $1 billion in loans, and created 3,000 new jobs. During the pandemic, AmPac rallied to provide over 700 businesses with more than $15 million in Paycheck Protection Program (PPP) loans, with an average loan size of $18,000. 

Entrepreneur Ecosystem  

In a post-pandemic economy, AmPac has been focusing on helping businesses recover, start over, and thrive. AmPac launched its Entrepreneur Ecosystem business resource center to provide wrap-around training, coaching, and ongoing learning for the Southern California region. Entrepreneurs spend 12-18 months using state-of-the-art technology and small business support services to expand their existing businesses or to start new ones.  

AmPac collaborates with key partners to offer expert knowledge and guidance through the Ecosystem program. These partners include SCORE (Service Corps of Retired Executives), Inland Empire Women’s Business Center, Black Chamber of Commerce, and the Hispanic Chamber of Commerce.  

The Financial Fitness Bootcamp, a small business training program focused on financial management, hosted by AmPac’s Entrepreneur Ecosystem

Additional collaborations and partnerships across California have helped AmPac expand its operations and reach. Along with other SBA partners, AmPac partners with local universities, including the Inland Empire Center for Entrepreneurship at Cal State San Bernardino and with Asociación de Emprendedor@s, a nonprofit organization with a mission to educate, motivate, empower, and develop the leadership and business skills of the monolingual Hispanic community in the United States.  

Learn More about AmPac   

Check out AmPac’s recent feature in FORTUNE Magazine, written by Michael Tubbs, special advisor to California Governor Gavin Newsom for economic mobility and opportunity and former mayor of Stockton, California.  

Read AmPac client success stories, follow AmPac on Facebook and LinkedIn, and learn more about AmPac on OFN’s CDFI Locator. 

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