Mr. Syphoe is a low-income community resident and small business owner in Atlanta's historic Fourth Ward. In this neighborhood adjacent to downtown and home to the city's oldest African American churches, the Martin Luther King, Jr. Center for Nonviolent Change, and a historic commercial business district, Mr. Syphoe has become an active and successful community development consultant. He specializes in identifying gap funding to help businesses in distressed communities build or expand. With over 30 years of experience related to accessing capital, Mr. Syphoe is a leading resource in helping Urban Key Capital Partners develop a small business lending program. Previously, Mr. Syphoe helped the City of Atlanta develop 44 housing and industrial enterprise zones which resulted in over $150 million in private sector investment. He also served as Vice President of Commercial Development for the Historic District Development Corporation (HDDC) and was responsible for the project management of Studioplex on Auburn Avenue, a significant mixed-use project in the Sweet Auburn District.

michael syphoe

community development


lonnie saboor

manager, small business finance

Invest Atlanta

dale royal


LISC Atlanta

Mr. Butts is the Founder and Chairman of Capital Fortitude Advisors which primarily provides entrepreneurial, strategy and community engagement services.  He was recently Executive in Residence at Georgia State University's J. Mack Robinson College of Business focusing on industry outreach to build mentoring and advisory boards, connecting students with the local and broader entrepreneurial community, and fundraising and seeking venture capital for student-led startups.  Prior to GSU, Mr. Butts was appointed by President Barack Obama in 2011 as Regional Administrator of the Southeast for the United States Small Business Administration.  He was responsible for the delivery of SBA programs in Alabama, Florida, Georgia, Kentucky, Mississippi, North Carolina, South Carolina, and Tennessee.  During his appointment, Mr. Butts has managed oversight of three record breaking years for SBA lending in Region IV. Nearly $12 billion in SBA-backed loans were awarded to small businesses within the aforementioned eight states.  Mr. Butts is also a resident of a low-income community census tract in the Atlanta MSA.

advisory board of directors

cassius f. butts


Capital Fortitude Advisors

Mr. Thompson is an attorney at Arnall Golden Gregory LLP in Atlanta, GA. Mr. Thompson focuses his practice on commercial real estate finance and creditor’s rights issues. He has extensive experience representing lenders, major corporations, and governmental entities in connection with loan and lease enforcement issues, real estate acquisitions and dispositions, ground leasing, commercial leasing and lending. His practice includes representing clients in connection with mixed-use and transit-oriented development projects. In addition to his real estate practice, Steve advises start-up companies and entrepreneurs on all aspects of new business formation and financing. Prior to joining Arnall Golden Gregory, Mr. Thompson was Staff Counsel for Invest Atlanta, the official economic development authority for the City of Atlanta. While at Invest Atlanta, Mr. Thompson managed all legal affairs associated with the implementation of the mission of Invest Atlanta and its related entities. 

Mr. Saboor oversees Invest Atlanta's small business lending programs and has over 30 years of direct experience in evaluating and financing small business transactions. He has packaged, financed and administered over 500 commercial loans representing over $500 million of public / private sector financing, responsible for creating over 5,000 new jobs in the City of Atlanta. Mr. Saboor conducts marketing services to entrepreneurs and business clients. He evaluates all loan proposals, analyzes all financial statements and projections and makes presentations and recommendations. Mr. Saboor is involved with the New Markets Tax Credit program and has extensive knowledge of the CDE management roles and responsibilities. Mr. Saboor successfully implemented the rollout of a small business lending platform for Atlanta Emerging Markets, Inc. which is a multi-round allocatee of NMTC allocation authority. In addition, he successfully initiated the start-up of a new Minority Enterprise Small Business Investment Company in Atlanta.

E. Steven Thompson


Arnall Golden Gregory LLP

Mr. Royal serves as the first Executive Director of LISC Atlanta. Prior to that, Mr. Royal served as President of Atlanta Emerging Markets, Inc. (AEMI) which is a four time NMTC allocatee ($148 million). Mr. Royal was responsible for managing all aspects of CDE operations. He also served as Senior Program Manager for Invest Atlanta, the City of Atlanta's economic development authority, where he worked closely with other programs, including Energy Efficiency Grants, Small Business lending, Venture Capital Financing, and Tax Allocation Districts. Mr. Royal has over 20 years of experience in community and economic development and helped manage $220 million of NMTC allocation at his previous employer, Self-Help Ventures Fund, a CDFI based in North Carolina. Prior to his involvement in NMTC financing, Mr. Royal managed a $100 million TIF affordable housing fund for San Diego’s downtown redevelopment agency, $50 million in HOPE VI public housing funds for San Francisco Housing Authority and disbursements of $400 million in transportation funds for bus and rail transit projects for the Los Angeles County Metropolitan Transportation Authority.