The CDBA office would like to introduce you to the newest member of our team. As CDBA's Membership Director, Anna will lead the development and execution of education and peer networking opportunities for member banks. Anna joins CDBA from Partners for the Common Good, a national CDFI loan fund based in Washington, D.C. With a background in CDFI Fund programs, social impact analysis, and investor relations, Anna is excited to work with CDFI banks to build capacity and continue to serve low- and moderate-income communities. Anna is originally from Flowery Branch, Georgia and holds a Bachelor of Arts in History from Princeton University. Please join us in welcoming Anna.
Today, the U.S. House of Representatives Subcommittee on Financial Services and General Government conducted a hearing on the impact of Community Development Financial Institutions. The video of the entire hearing is now available for online viewing and review.
Bob Jones, President and CEO of United Bank and Chairman of CDBA's Board of Directors, testified before the Subcommittee on the value of CDFI-certified banks and the community impact and effectiveness of the CDFI Fund's Bank Enterprise Awards. "The BEA Awards allowed us to present opportunities and continue to make loans to help people build credit," said Mr. Jones. "We all understand that until you get a credit score and you get into the mainstream financial system in America, you are operating off the grid. That's a place that's not sustainable to take advantage of all the opportunities we offer in this country for homeownership and upward mobility. So we see [the BEA Awards] as something critical to what we do."
Other witnesses included Annie Donovan, former CDFI Fund Director and Senior Fellow for the Center for Community Investment, Grace Fricks, President and CEO of Access to Capital for Entrepreneurs, and Joe Neri, CEO of IFF.
When trying to create new, innovative digital customer experiences, many banks struggle to pinpoint where customers are most dissatisfied. To help banks better identify these pain points, European firms such as Glassbox and ContentSquare step in to help. These companies offer high-end tools such as session replay, digital experience analytics, customer engagement tracking, and audit trailing to help banks see where customers are and are not engaged. In the simplest terms, the software allows banks to see what clicked with consumers and what did not.
Southern Bancorp has announced its opposition to a proposed rule change by the Consumer Financial Protection Bureau. Some consumer advocates say the change would water down the rules that prevent payday loan operators and other predatory lenders from pushing high-interest loans on unwitting borrowers. "As a CDFI, Southern Bancorp focuses our efforts in [the] rural, low-income communities in which we see the devastating effects of predatory loans," said Southern Bancorp CEO Darrin Williams. "We support the original rule and encourage the CFPB to reconsider rescinding it so that families in Arkansas, Mississippi, and beyond can access credit responsibly."
Many cite regional inequality as the cause of many problems facing the United States. However, the problem may more accurately stem from inequality within, not between, each region. According to new findings pulling from Census data and extensive research, regional inequality contributes very little to total inequality. In other words, the differences between people within a city like Los Angeles are a lot sharper than the differences between residents of California and residents of Mississippi.
Opportunity Zones offer an attractive investment incentive for low-income communities, with the intent being that these investments will have a positive social impact. However, the law does not require a means of measuring the impact. To meet this need, the U.S. Impact Investing Alliance has developed a framework for ensuring positive results. "Opportunity Zones represent a once-in-a-generation opportunity to spur private investment into America's distressed communities," said Fran Seegull, executive director of the U.S. Impact Investing Alliance. "However...it is important that those entering this market remain committed to transparency and community engagement."
In celebration of this year's Black History Month, OneUnited Bank, the largest Black owned bank in the United States, recently launched its Royalty Campaign by introducing its new King Visa Debit Card. "We agree with James Baldwin," states Teri Williams, President & COO. "Our crown has already been bought and paid for. All we have to do is wear it." The bank acknowledges respected public figures such as Aretha Franklin, Dr. Martin Luther King, and Lebron James as inspirations behind the card.
Earlier this month, UB Community Development, a partner of United Bank, provided Capital Magnet Funds to the Community Action Partnership of North Alabama (CAPNA) and The Bennett Group to be used for the construction of The Village, a 56-unit, affordable multi-family project. "Rising construction costs and falling equity prices were going to leave us with a significant gap in funding," said Dave Truitt, director of real estate at CAPNA. "Due to UBCD and United Bank providing the Capital Magnet funds for our project, we were able to close our gap in financing and...provide 56 units of safe, beautiful, and affordable housing for seniors in Moody."
This month, representatives from BankPlus joined the Federal Home Loan Bank of Dallas and local dignitaries to award over $40,000 in Partnership Grant Program (PGP) funds to three local nonprofits. "BankPlus takes pride in its commitment to the community, and contributing to different groups and causes," said Mark Ouellette, first vice president and director of affordable housing at BankPlus. "What better way to do this than to exercise our partnership with FHLB Dallas to make positive impacts to the lives of many."
As CDBA grows, we would like to extend a warm welcome to Cassandra Brzezinski, our new Public Policy Director. Cassandra comes to CDBA after working as a Legislative Aide for the Office of Senator Joe Donnelly, where she handled banking, tax, trade, and labor issues. In May of 2018, she completed her Master's in Economics from the University of Maryland. Prior to that, she spent five years in the banking industry, in commercial treasury management sales, and in mortgage operations. Cassandra, alongside Hayley Roth, will work with CDBA member banks on advocacy and government relations.