Through the DC Rebuild Bond Program, Charles Garris (center) of Innovative Recordings, LLC can expand programming that features Capital Kidds (left). (Courtesy of SMBX)
Through the DC Rebuild Bond Program, Charles Garris (center) of Innovative Recordings, LLC can expand programming that features Capital Kidds (left). (Courtesy of SMBX)

For 20 years, Innovative Recordings, LLC has not only provided a platform for musical acts but launched a school of performing arts and explored entry into the snack food industry. With its inclusion in a D.C. government-supported bond program, Innovative Recordings LLC will soon expand its operations, much to the benefit of Ward 7 and 8 residents. 

Through the DC Rebuild Bond Program, Innovative Recordings, LLC and at least seven other local businesses have issued small business bonds, for as low as $10 a piece, to customers and community members in the District and around the country. Those who purchase these bonds immediately receive monthly payments on the principal and interest. 

For months, Innovative Recordings LLC, based in Southeast, has been well on its way to raise $500,000 through the DC Rebuild Bond Program. Innovative Recordings LLC founder Charles “Shorty Corleone” Garris said the endeavor, which wraps up in a couple of weeks, has already expanded the visibility of the Capital Kidds musical group and his snack brand, Crank Chips. 

“There are investors around the country participating in the bond program,” Garris said. “It’s exciting that our story is compelling enough that it reached the core of some investors who want to support us. This is a great opportunity. They will support some of the things we want to do and what we’ve done for years. It’s also a wonderful opportunity for workforce development.” 

Research shows that the size of their business and lack of knowledge about the intricacies of the loan process often hinder entrepreneurs, particularly those from marginalized communities, from acquiring small business loans. The problem exacerbated at the height of the pandemic when a significant number of small Black-owned businesses struggled to access funds from the Paycheck Protection Program. 

The DC Rebuild Bond Programs represents a collaboration between the DC Office of the Deputy Mayor for Planning and Economic Development and SMBX, a first-of-its-kind global marketplace that connects small businesses directly with everyday investors. 

Program coordinators said they want to spur $5 million in investments. Since launching last September, the businesses involved in the program have raised nearly $800,000.  

Qualifying businesses must show an ability to repay loans that carry interest rates of between 4 and 10 percent. Other participants include Triune Solutions, a Southeast-based provider of IT services and Trini Vybez Food Truck, based in Northeast, which recently joined the DC Rebuild Bond Program to raise funds for the purchase of equipment.   

“Small businesses don’t have to go to the Small Business Administration,” said Peter Barden, SMBX’s director of communications. 

“They can have a loan at a reasonable interest rate that they’re paying back to their community. And there are no unpredictable payments. The real focus is on Wards 5, 7, 8 and areas that have been discriminated against in the financial system,” Barden said.  

Innovative Recordings’ future programming will build upon educational content centered on the Capital Kidds. The group has more than 80 songs recorded and one completed season of the YouTube series, “Cooking with the Capital Kidds.” As Capital Kidds reaches a larger audience, fans and new listeners alike will also become familiar with Crank Chips. A unique QR code on the snack package will allow purchasers to listen to newly-released go-go songs.  

Another piece of the puzzle, as described by Stan Jackson, involves the development of buildings where entrepreneurs like Garris can interact with creatives and community members. 

Jackson, president and CEO of the Anacostia Economic Development Corporation, spoke about the potential of developing Parcel 8 of St. Elizabeths East Campus. 

This project, he said, follows ongoing efforts to connect residents east of the Anacostia River with economic opportunities that boost their ability to provide jobs for others. 

“We have to begin to recognize the value of the creative economy and what opportunity does to marginalized communities,” Jackson said. “It’s a simple process [centered on] how we create the outcome that allows the leverage of creative investments for the sustainability of small businesses that pour into the community to enrich our residents.” 

Sam P.K. Collins has more than a decade of experience as a journalist, columnist and organizer. Sam, a millennial and former editor of WI Bridge, covers education, police brutality, politics, and other...

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