Ines Polonius

CEO, Communities Unlimited

Fayetteville, AR

Accelerate Collaboration, Prioritize Equity, Shift Capital  |  Community Capital, Community Economic Development, Funding / Investment, Rural Community Development

Ines leverages her organization’s CDFI to build entrepreneurial ecosystems among local leaders and move rural and under-resourced communities across seven southern states toward prosperity.

Ines is the CEO of Communities Unlimited, serving Texas, Oklahoma, Arkansas, Louisiana, Mississippi, Tennessee, and Alabama. She previously served as the founder and executive director of alt.Consulting, which merged with Community Resource Group to form Communities Unlimited in 2014. She also worked as a business development consultant at the North Carolina Institute for Minority Economic Development, and has international economic development experience in The Dominican Republic and Chile. Ines has served on boards for the Rural Community Assistance Program (RCAP), the Center for Rural Entrepreneurship, the GE Capital Rural Community Investment Fund Advisory Board, the Federal Reserve Bank of St Louis’s Community Development Advisory Board, and the Regions Bank CDC. Ines received an MBA and an MA in Economics from Boston University and a BS in Foreign Service from Georgetown University. She was born in Bad Homburg, Germany and now lives in Fayetteville, Arkansas.


  • Turning DeWitt, AR into a “can-do” community by supporting business start-ups/creating 40 jobs
  • Successfully turned around 37 failing small businesses since 2012
  • Successfully transitioned 11 businesses from one generation to the next since 2013
  • Secured $35 million in financing for CU’s small business clients since 2012
  • Helped to change the economic development conversation in Arkansas from recruiting to entrepreneurship