Sheridan Garman-Neeman is Chief Wealth Building Officer

Sheridan Garman-Neeman begins work this month as Chief Community Wealth Building Officer at New Growth, a rural Missouri community development corporation (CDC) based in the state’s west central region. She will lead New Growth’s organizational development at a time of significant expansion and opportunity.

Sheridan brings valuable management experience, most recently as executive director of New Growth’s regional partner, the Kaysinger Basin Regional Planning Commission. She is also a longtime collaborator with New Growth in development of rural initiatives and programs, including the regional START HERE Business Acceleration Network. Sheridan grew up in Osceola and currently lives in Bolivar with her husband and three children.

As Chief Community Wealth Building Director, her immediate responsibility is managing the growth and success of New Growth as a rural micro-entrepreneur development and financing organization. This expanding part of the CDC’s work, now doing business as New Growth Capital (dba), includes micro-loans to rural businesses unable to find financing elsewhere. It also includes business technical assistance to rural men and women through the 15-county, U.S. Small Business Administration-designated New Growth Women’s Business Center.

New Growth Capital and WBC

New Growth Capital began making micro-loans, from $500 to $50,000, in early 2021 under the direction of micro-financing expert Lisa Jones. She joined New Growth in late 2020 after serving as Lender Relations Specialist with SBA’s regional office and after 10 years as a rural micro-lender with the St. Louis-based community development financial institution (CDFI) Justine Petersen. Life events have moved Lisa to the west coast. She now works as Director of Rural Partnerships at the Washington state-based Northwest Access Fund.

In just 15 months, New Growth Capital has made more than 30 loans to small rural businesses, including many startups, such as Johnson’s Tree Service and Lucky Ducky Cleaners.

Also part of New Growth Capital is the rural-focused, SBA-designated New Growth Women’s Business Center (WBC). Now in its second year, the WBC is a needed on-the-ground resource for helping rural entrepreneurs, men and women, with their full range of questions and concerns, from startup to growth.

Three business counselors at the WBC, including Senior Business Services Director and WBC Director Tiffany Frost, work across 15 counties. They collaborate with members of west central Missouri’s START HERE Business Acceleration Network and other organizations to “leave no rural entrepreneur behind.”

Hometown Revival

New Growth began operation in 2018 under the leadership of longtime Chief Community Development Officer Patty Cantrell and President and Chief Executive Officer Chris Thompson. They will work as an executive leadership team with Sheridan to build New Growth and its programming.

New Growth is a nonprofit affiliate of its parent organization, the nine-county, 57-year-old West Central Missouri Community Action Agency. New Growth’s mission is to build the people, business and resource linkages needed to grow local ownership and lasting livelihoods in rural places.

In addition to micro-entrepreneur development and financing, New Growth has facilitated local exploration of regional market opportunities, such as tourism and placemaking; convened regional community development conversations through Fifth Monday networking and other events; organized the START HERE Business Acceleration Network for regional business development collaboration; launched development of the Rides to Health and Wealth rural transportation initiative; and collaborated in promotion of small farm business development, including the annual Farm to Fork Summit.