NORTH CHARLESTON, S.C. (WCBD) – The start of a new project in the Lowcountry is hoping to shine a light on local businesses.

A groundbreaking ceremony was held for the new Opportunity Center in North Charleston, located at 8570 Rivers Avenue.

The goal of the center is to help small businesses and unemployed people find success.

The idea came together by four local non-profit organizations, Increasing HOPE, the Center for Heirs Property Preservation, Homes of Hope, and the South Carolina Association for Community Economic Development.

They said it took seven years to finally get it all together, but they’re excited for what the future could hold for not only small businesses, but also black owned and women owned businesses.

“Since all four of us work to help poor and marginalized people, whom the US economy and the state economy, and economic system is not necessarily designed to serve their needs…The Opportunity Center is designed to build an ecosystem to provide hope for those who have a dream to succeed,” said Bernie Mazyck, President and CEO of SC Association for Community Economic Development.

The $4.7 million project will provide both job training and office space for future employees and entrepreneurs.

Construction is set to end in July with an opening expected for September.

Officials said the center is just the beginning and support from the community is the key to helping every small business.

“Small businesses are the jewels of our communities and it is our job…together to make sure they continue to be successful,” said Thomas Anderson, SC Commercial Banking Market Leader with Wells Fargo.

With many businesses struggling because of the pandemic, North Charleston Mayor Keith Summey believes this center can help provide some optimism for the future.

“In the time of a pandemic, the opportunity to come together and work on something that’s going to help us come out of a pandemic, getting our folks ready to create new businesses and opportunities in this community,” said Mayor Summey.

Once the facility is completed, it’s expected to create 45 jobs and attract nearly $4 million in private investment.