The Kansas City Fed developed Investment Connection events and Investment Connection Online to help funders find community and economic development opportunities in the Tenth District.
Lenders say both Investment Connection types are proving to be valuable tools in making investment decisions that serve their communities and also qualify for Community Reinvestment Act (CRA) credits.
Started in 2011, Investment Connection has helped link funders with community and economic development organizations, resulting in more than $24 million in funding throughout the Tenth District.
Bruce Slyter, vice president and CRA officer for Colorado East Bank and Trust in Pueblo, Co., said Investment Connection Online offers the information and flexibility he needs to make proposals to his CRA advisory council.
Investment Connection Online “made it easy for us to find the types of organizations that made sense for our bank,” he said. “I had 22 eligible proposals to consider, not just one or two.”
Identify new projects
Gay Hetland, senior vice president and CRA compliance officer for ANB Bank, said Investment Connection Online allows her bank to connect with many organizations through its 36 offices in three states: Colorado, Kansas and Wyoming.
“This is efficient and a good use of my time for all of our markets,” she said.
Funding Partners, a statewide Community Development Financing Institution (CDFI) that focuses on housing development, is one Colorado organization she contacted. The connection “made sense on many levels” because ANB also has a large presence throughout Colorado, she said.
ANB had a forum for its lenders to meet with Joe Rowan, executive director of Funding Partners, to look for ways to work with CDFI programs to leverage the bank’s lending activities.
Deborah Keating, vice president and executive director, Community Development Corp., First National Nebraska, said that Investment Connection events have provided useful forums to network with local funders and CDFIs.
“The information has been very educational by providing statistical and anecdotal data on the recipients of local services and the direct impact of funding,” Keating said.
“As a newer participant in the Colorado market, this has afforded a way to identify new programs for funding,” she added. “Overall this has been extremely valuable to First National Bank.”
Typical funding proposals focus on: asset building/financial education; community facilities; small business development/microlending; neighborhood stabilization/affordable housing; and workforce development.
The Investment Connection Online is updated on a regular basis. Nonprofits can submit their proposals online. And funders can revisit the site on a quarterly basis, or more, as new proposals are added.