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CSBDF Selected for IEDC’s Equity in Economic Development Fellowship Program

The Equity in Economic Development Fellowship Program launches its second cohort this summer.

WASHINGTON, DC – Carolina Small Business Development Fund was selected to be part of the second cohort of the International Economic Development Council’s (IEDC) Equity in Economic Development Fellowship Program. This initiative is funded in collaboration with the Helios Foundation, and is part of their shared, ongoing commitment to advancing equity and closing disparities in the field of economic development.

Starting in June, seven outstanding young individuals will serve as fellows at economic development organizations throughout the U.S. for eight weeks, gaining access to economic development resources, mentorship, and opportunities to impact lasting, tangible change.

Vanesa Garcia Nuñez, who is a Senior at Johnson & Wales University, Charlotte Campus pursuing a Bachelor of Science degree in Business Administration, will join Carolina Small Business Development Fund. She will earn valuable hands-on experience while advancing substantive and impactful projects in their community. This program will provide her with the resources and opportunities to discover, strengthen, and apply their full capabilities as future leaders in economic development.

“I am incredibly enthusiastic about this year's cohort of bright, hard-working fellows and the economic development organizations participating in the 2023 Equity in Economic Development Fellowship Program," stated Nathan Ohle, President & CEO of IEDC. "Programs that center equity in economic development are vital to developing a vibrant, accessible, and inclusive profession. Congratulations to our second group of fellows and economic development organizations!"

"As Task Force Chair and program originator, it is truly amazing to see how far the Equity in Economic Development Fellowship Program has come in just one year. I’m grateful that IEDC agreed to continue my proposed talent initiative. With last year's successes, I am more excited than ever to see how the program continues to evolve and create positive change with each group of passionate, driven fellows," added Julie Curtin, President of Economic Development Practice at DCI. "This year's cohort is exceptional, and I am confident the work they do in their communities will be awe-inspiring and establish them as leaders among the next generation of economic development professionals."

"We are excited to be a part of IEDC’s Equity in Economic Development Fellowship Program and have Vanesa as a fellow,” said Reginold Jones, Director of Business Solutions at CSBDF. “It will not only allow CSBDF the opportunity to gain a fresh perspective from a talented student, but it will also allow her to see our work from behind the scenes. This will be vital in building her foundation in developing comprehensive strategies to address disparities in underserved communities throughout North Carolina.”

"At Carolina Small Business Development Fund, our vision is to create economic opportunity for all people," said Kevin Dick, President and CEO at CSBDF. "North Carolina's small business ecosystem is thriving, and through this partnership with IEDC we are excited to bring Vanesa on as a fellow as she helps us continue to make an impact in our entrepreneurial community while gaining the skills, experience, and knowledge to help further her passion of becoming a future leader in economic development. We can't wait to work with Vanesa and IEDC this summer, as we share a commitment to advancing equity and closing disparities in the field of economic development."

About Carolina Small Business Development Fund (CSBDF)

Founded in 1990, Carolina Small Business Development Fund is a nonprofit and certified Community Development Financial Institution (CDFI) that fosters economic development in underserved communities through access to capital, technical assistance, and policy research to light the way for small businesses. Since 2010, CSBDF has contributed more than $104 million through more than 1,180 loans and 1,640 grants to dedicated small businesses across North Carolina, helping to create or retain more than 4,700 full-time jobs.

About the International Economic Development Council

The International Economic Development Council (IEDC) is a non-profit, non-partisan membership organization serving economic developers. With more than 4,300 members, IEDC is the largest organization of its kind. Economic developers promote economic well-being and quality of life for their communities by creating, retaining, and expanding jobs that facilitate growth, enhance wealth and provide a stable tax base. From public to private, rural to urban, and local to international, IEDC’s members engage in the full range of economic development practices. Given the breadth of economic development work, our members are employed in various settings, including local, state, provincial, and federal governments, public-private partnerships, chambers of commerce, universities, and a variety of other institutions. When we succeed, our members create high-quality jobs, develop vibrant communities, and improve the quality of life in their regions. Learn more at

For Media Inquiries:

Emily Blevins

Marketing & Communications Director, CSBDF



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