Commercial Real Estate in Tulsa – Creative Capital Series
TEDC Creative Capital presents the Creative Capital Series, sharing the stories of local entrepreneurs who’ve benefited from our lending programs and services. In our most recent episode, entrepreneur and author Corey Carolina of Rise and Develop, LLC shares his journey to becoming a commercial real estate investor while building generational wealth. Hear how TEDC Creative Capital and architect Matt King supported Carolina in navigating his first commercial real estate development project in Tulsa. In addition, attorney Brittany Littleton shares her insight on how entrepreneurs can protect and build generational wealth as discussed by Carolina in the interview.
[Beginning of Transcript]
Corey Carolina: So my mother is an entrepreneur. She was a hairdresser for 30-plus years.
I knew I wanted to be an entrepreneur at some point in time; it was just figuring out what would be the avenue.
My name is Corey Carolina. My company name is Rise and Develop, LLC. I also have other ventures, such as Carolina Food Company. We have a flagship product called “Toasted,” which is a wine jelly, so we mix wine and fruit and we make jelly out of it. I passed it out to friends and family and none of ’em died, so I decided to start selling it. I’m also an author. I’ve written 10 books and published them.
When it came to real estate, Scott Gordon has been a great mentor for me. He’s been a person who actually got me into real estate, showed me how to structure deals, how to find deals. I purchased my first commercial property probably about four years ago.
I purchased six or seven residential houses, but I never had a commercial building. I was always nervous about commercial because they’re more expensive, and usually, they’re more expensive to renovate.
I found a piece of property that was for sale, and it was just run down, it was boarded up and the grass was real high on it. So I go and I walk around this property, and it’s amazing.
I mean, it’s all tore up, but I can see it, you know, I can visualize what options we would have for entrepreneurs coming in there. I wanted to focus on creating a place that entrepreneurs can come and strive.
I worked with a professional architect, and they helped formulate the plan because they were the experts. They’d say oh, yeah, we can do this, but it needs to look this way in order for you to go and get an approval for a permit and for you to show this to your banker.
So I purchased that property and renovated it, then I learned about TEDC, and they had some funds available for potentially refinancing the property to give me better terms, which would make the property even more profitable for me as an investor. And I was really appreciative of TEDC for that.
Matt King: I think that the architect provides value in the very beginning.
I can really walk on a piece of land and have a pretty good idea of how we design the building; it’s really dictated by the land. You can’t just flatten a site without doing a lot of work, and it’s very expensive to do that work. We try to educate our clients about that.
There’s a lot of regulations, there’s landscape ordinances, there are fence separations between zoning areas. Or we’ve had people who have bought property cause they like it, and it’s in a floodplain, FEMA and Tulsa regulatory floodplain. So we try to do that due diligence right up front, so we can help people.
But if they’re looking for a piece of property, they just need to understand all of these other factors that could impact the development of that particular site. And so it’s kind of valuable to do this early study so nobody wastes any time or wastes any money.
And then, of course, you have to do a pro forma. The pro forma is a document that takes into account sales, the financing of the project and the interest rate and all those things.
So you have to put this thing together and okay – what’s gonna happen over the next five years, and projecting what your project’s gonna do. You have to understand what you’re getting yourself into financially.
Now, that’s the nice thing about TEDC because they have educational programs that allow entrepreneurs to come in and learn those kinds of things, and that is really, really important.
The TEDC board has bankers, they have attorneys, and they have other disciplines that really contribute to what they’re trying to do. We have a lot of borrowers who are second-time and third-time borrowers.
They continue to come back to TEDC because there are risks associated with everything, and TEDC understands that. Not every project is collateralized, you know, we know that, and we’re banking on people’s success.
How did you learn about TEDC?
Corey Carolina: My first interaction with TEDC was watching Rose Washington give a speech. She was presenting on the importance of entrepreneurship and funding for entrepreneurship. They were focusing on, you know, getting more funding for African-Americans and female entrepreneurs.
Rose frequently is in the community talking about all the funding options they have. And then when she would see me out, she would be like, “Just let me know if I can ever help you,” you know?
And she always told me that I want to have you generate jobs, generate revenue, and you know, TEDC can help you with that. They helped me with a commercial property to get refinanced, and so they gave me better terms and a better interest rate. And so, it was super beneficial for me to know about TEDC from Rose. It was a great opportunity.
What is one of your secrets to success, Corey?
I think it’s so important as a man, specifically, who has a family, to secure a future for that family. Not only to protect them while he is alive but protect them whenever he is no longer here.
In order to do that, you have to be financially stable.
Now, some people think, oh, I have to make all this money during my life, but there’s other avenues, even if you’re not well off. I also believe that it’s so important to have a will and a trust.
That’s all a part of creating generational wealth because you have to know how you want your life to be handled while you’re living.
Brittany Littleton: So, One of the simplest ways to create generational wealth is through estate planning.
The things that I think a business owner must have in place to position them for long-term success; they need to have a properly formed legal entity, most likely a
limited liability company. The other thing that I think is critical is an estate plan.
The foundation of any estate plan should be emergency decision documents, and that is how I collectively refer to a durable power of attorney, healthcare power of attorney, HIPAA authorization and advance healthcare directive.
Those are tools that allow you to point a trusted decision maker to make decisions on your behalf if you can’t make them for yourself.
And then the second step of that is typically a will-based plan or a trust-based plan. For most people who own businesses, a trust-based plan is going to be best.
The third thing that I would say is really important is a realistic strategic plan, where you have identified why you want to be in business, what success looks like to you, what is the pathway for you to achieve that, and what benchmarks are you going to be evaluating to make sure that you’re on track?
I myself am a first-generation college student. I love working with entrepreneurs and growing their businesses. It’s also why I love working with families and estate planning because it’s that same long-term strategic planning.
A lot of small business owners are underserved when it comes to accessible legal services. The conversation just isn’t always directed at them, and so they don’t know what they don’t know.
Corey: I think it’s so important to have a plan, even if you don’t know exactly what your plan should be, if you can just write out your first initial plan. I think that’s the big difference between a doer and a talker, right?
So now you have to put things in action. Try it out. It may work, it may not work, but at least you tried it. And it’s needed if you really want to be an entrepreneur, for you to try something and either succeed or fail. But at least you tried it.
That first step, it’s so hard to take that first step. It’s so hard to put yourself out there. That’s the hardest part about being an entrepreneur is saying, “I’m here, I’m available, I’m vulnerable. What do you think?”
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About TEDC Creative Capital
TEDC works to remove barriers in order to level the playing field for all who desire to build successful businesses, despite their zip code, race or personal financial strength.
Our goal is economic vitality, growth, and strength in Oklahoma.
Explore the strategies TEDC Creative Capital uses to support the economic success of Oklahoman entrepreneurs and review our programs to learn how we can help!
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PartnerTulsa is the City of Tulsa’s economic development authority that streamlines and strengthens Tulsa’s economic development efforts through the merging of the Mayor’s Office of Economic Development (MOED), Tulsa Industrial Authority (TIA), Tulsa Parking Authority (TPA), and Economic Development Commission (EDC) into a single, enhanced Public Trust.
Partner Tulsa (aka TAEO) is governed by a thirteen (13) member Board of Trustees and provides staffing for and oversees the operations of the Tulsa Development Authority (TDA). Visit our website for more information about PartnerTulsa.