Virginia Community Capital received a $200,000 grant over a three-year period from the Thompson Charitable Foundation, as part of a $600,000 total grant package that will be directed at supporting businesses in Southwest Virginia. The grants from the Thompson Charitable Foundation will fund up to 12 small business workshops each year in Buchanan and Tazewell counties, provide free technical advisory services, and host four Small Business Challenges in each county that will award investment grants to existing and startup companies. These regions were deeply affected by coal and manufacturing industry losses.
City First Bank, Sunrise Banks, and Beneficial State Bank are among the Certified B Corporations named as "2018 Best for the World" global honorees. The award recognizes these organizations' positive impact on communities, the economy, their workers, and more. The full B Impact Assessment evaluates a company's environmental performance, employee relationships, diversity, involvement in the local community, and impact of a company's product or service. To become a Best for the World honoree, a company must score in the top 10 percent of Certified BCorps across the category areas of the assessment.
Business First Bancshares, Inc. has announced its planned acquisition of Richland State Bancorp, Inc. If the merger is successful, the subsequent combined institution would be the 4th largest Louisiana-headquartered bank, with total assets of approximately $2 billion. As per the agreement, Richland State's President and CEO, Jerome Vascocu, will join Business First's board of directors.
Bank of Montgomery was named 2017 Lender of the Year by USDA Rural Development State Director Dr. Carrie Castille. In 2017, Bank of Montgomery applied for and received four USDA Rural Development Business and Industry Loan Guarantees for a total of $39.25 million. They assisted these four businesses in creating and saving 289 jobs across Louisiana. Bank of Montgomery has assisted a total of 27 guaranteed loan borrowers totaling $156 million since it began participating in the Business and Industry Loan Guarantee Program.
Virginia Community Capital has released its 2017 Impact Report, highlighting the last twelve months of its innovative lending portfolio. Last year, the bank surpassed a major milestone of creating $1 billion in project impact across the state. The report details VCC's impact to South Richmond's Jeff Davis Highway Corridor, focus on solar-energy investing, and innovative Virginia Fresh Food Loan Fund.
The Urban Institute has released a state-by-state assessment of how successfully governors have targeted Opportunity Zones by need and benefit. The assessment, "Did States Maximize Their Opportunity Zone Selections?", is authored by community development expert Brett Theodos. Analysis shows minimal targeting of the program toward disinvested communities by a measure of investment flows developed by the researchers. Less than a third of the designated Opportunity Zones are in tracts with the lowest levels of investment, while 28% already attract high levels of investment.
Enterprise, together with Elevate Energy, has released a case study of the Chicago Water-Efficiency Pilot: in 2016, a water-efficiency specialist visited 14 affordable housing properties across the Chicago region, providing recommendations to organizational decision-makers, along with light training and procedural recommendations for maintenance staff. Findings from the pilot suggest that affordable housing providers can benefit greatly from comprehensive water-efficiency improvements, including usage monitoring, leak repair, and upgrades or replacement of inefficient shower heads, toilets and other fixtures and appliances. Based on the pilot’s limited sample, implementing the recommended upgrades and repairs would save about 22 percent in water and sewer charges, or more than $20,500 per property over five years.
Ashoka and BNY Mellon are hosting a Changemaker Challenge–a national social innovation competition–to uncover innovations that expand financial security of underserved communities, empowering everyone to be the drivers of their own financial wellbeing, resilience, and freedom. In a moment when six out of ten Americans will experience financial insecurity, families find themselves struggling to pay rent, afford healthcare, and cover their bills at the end of each month. Financial struggles leave entire communities without the opportunity and agency to plan for their futures and reach their goals. Times of joy—going to college, buying a home, raising children—have become sources of anxiety for too many. While saving money can be a challenge for a variety of reasons, the inability to build a strong financial foundation is often a symptom of a greater, systemic problem. Now, BNY Mellon and Ashoka are launching a collaborative effort aimed at addressing the root causes of financial inequality through innovation—the Unlocking Change Challenge.
Native American Bank has released its annual report, highlighting its financial condition and innovative new partnerships to benefit tribal economies and tribal members. "As we look to the future, having purchased a building in Denver to move our headquarters into, we are laying the groundwork to better serve our constituents, create a unique presence and build on our accomplishments," said CEO Tom Ogaard.
This week, President Trump sent a rescission package proposal to Congress that calls for stripping more than $15 billion in previously approved spending, including funding for the CDFI Fund's Bank Enterprise Awards and Capital Magnet Fund Programs. Click here to read the CDBA press release. These programs provide incentives for banks to lend and invest in high-poverty and high-unemployment communities. They have played a crucial role in increasing the flow of capital to distressed areas and stimulating exponential private investment in CDFIs, thereby accelerating business growth, generating jobs, revitalizing neighborhoods, increasing the availability and affordability of housing, and improving access to financial services in communities that have been left behind. Congress has 45 days to either approve or dismiss the proposed rescissions.