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Networked for Change in the Delta

Greenville, MS – After nearly three decades of work in the Chicago broadcasting industry, Elijah Mondy and his wife Belinda came home to the Delta. Armed with 29 years of experience, Mondy returned to Helena, AR where he started his own business — a radio station — KJIW-FM.  KJIW-FM would become the leading station for gospel music in its market.  Shortly after launching the station, Mondy became involved with the local community. He instituted a school-based radio broadcasting project to give students exposure to the broadcasting field.

Mondy’s vision, however, did not stop at the Helena city limits. Mondy, along with his partners, Kirkland Burke and Darren Smith envisioned a network of radio stations serving the Delta.  In addition to carrying a gospel format, the radio stations would participate in the local community and carry debates, news and community forums.

In the spring of 2003, Mondy and his partners, the Mondy Burke Broadcasting Network (MBBN), seized an opportunity to bring their dreams to fruition. After another station failed to uphold its agreements with the Federal Communications Commission (FCC), the FCC granted MBBN, the right to build a 50,000-watt radio station in Greenville, MS. Along with the rights, however, the FCC gave MBBN a 36-month deadline to complete the construction. Short on capital, MBBN approached the Enterprise Corporation of the Delta (ECD) with a request for loan financing to build and outfit a 653-foot tower and accompanying studio.

Cassandra Williams, an ECD loan officer, worked with Mondy to package the loan. While Williams provided technical assistance to Mondy, ECD qualified the loan for a 75 percent Small Business Administration (SBA) Loan Guaranty. “I don’t think we could have gotten the deal approved without the loan guaranty,” said Williams.

Unlike many small banks in the region, ECD works with the SBA 7a Loan Guaranty Program to strengthen deals that may not otherwise qualify for financing. The loan guaranty program provides government backed “collateral” for up to 75 percent of an unsecured portion of a loan.

Through its growing network of stations, MBBN provides employment in Helena and Greenville. Additionally, MBBN is active in and accessible to its communities. Over 300,000 people live in MBBN’s listening area. By carrying debates and community forums, the network offers an incredible opportunity to raise awareness about issues and to organize Delta residents around issues affecting them.

If you or someone you know is interested in a small business loan through ECD, please contact ECD Commercial Loan Officer Cassandra Williams at (601) 944-1100. Learn more at www.ecd.org.

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