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Article Archives: Alabama

Healthy Food Financing Initiative Announced in the Alabama Black Belt

The Hale Empowerment and Revitalization Organization (HERO) announced a new tool to assist in the creation of entrepreneurial small-business opportunities for community-driven artisan foods in “food deserts.” The Healthy Food Fund provides a nontraditional source of financing for women and minority entrepreneurs who focus on hunger relief and healthy food options in rural areas. The loan fund provides below-market-rate loans ranging from $5,000 to $80,000 with flexible repayment terms.

The fund is intended to support ongoing economic development efforts and to create or preserve jobs. The fund is also helping to make the Alabama Black Belt a stronger market for entrepreneurs who are creating healthy-food products, to expand the number of food outlets, and to better equip corner stores and farmers markets that bring produce and less-processed foods to rural towns. The new fund does not compete with existing funding sources but is designed to enhance the financial services already available to small businesses.

The initial funding pool of $220,000 was supplied by HERO and Regions Bank. HERO’s loan fund is actively seeking additional loan capital. The fund is managed by HERO, a local, grass-roots nonprofit group that is a HUD Certified Comprehensive Housing Counseling Agency, a HUD Certified Nonprofit, and a Community Housing Development Corporation.

For more information, contact Pamela Dorr at (334) 624-0842 or pam@herohousing.org.
[Published in Community Developments Investments, August 2012]

Supporting Affordable Housing through Tax Credit Syndication
Community Affordable Housing Equity Corp (CAHEC) is a 501(c)(3) nonprofit low-income housing tax credit syndicator serving Alabama, the District of Columbia, Florida, Georgia, Kentucky, Maryland, North Carolina, South Carolina, Tennessee, Virginia, and West Virginia. CAHEC works to create and maintain affordable rental and ownership housing in the areas it serves. Since its creation in 1992, CAHEC has developed more than 7,300 units of affordable housing. CAHEC also provides a number of supportive programs designed to assist the residents of the developments it has helped to finance.

As a tax credit syndicator, CAHEC structures equity funds using investors' capital. CAHEC's most recent fund is the South Carolina Preservation Fund II LP (SCPF II). SCPF II is a $32 million equity fund designed to preserve and renovate a portfolio of older, multifamily housing properties in South Carolina. The targeted portfolio includes 41 properties with a total of 1,548 units. Although all investments in SCPF II were fully subscribed in 2008, banks can invest in other CAHEC equity funds as they are developed. To learn more, visit their Web site or e-mail Dana Boole or call (919) 788-1803.
[Community Developments Investments, Spring 2009]

Alabama Asset Building Coalition
The Alabama Asset Building Coalition is a partnership among federal, state, and local governmental agencies, nonprofit organizations, and the corporate community. Through the use of Individual Development Account (IDA) programs, the 41-member coalition enables Alabamians to develop assets that support generational wealth building and self-sufficiency. Currently, the coalition sponsors IDA program activity in Blount, Colbert, Etowah, Jefferson, Mobile, St. Clair, Shelby, Sumter, and Walker counties. During 2008, expansion is expected to include Uniontown, Auburn, and Montgomery.

The United Way of Central Alabama is fiscal sponsor and lead agency for the coalition's $1.7 million Assets for Independence initiative for working families to open IDAs. These matched savings accounts accelerate earned income savings for first-time homeownership, post-secondary education, or small business capitalization. In only one year, 40 participants have opened IDA accounts, two families have purchased homes, and one person has paid for post-secondary education. The coalition offers financial literacy education as part of the IDA programs so people can make informed decisions when borrowing, spending, saving, or investing money. The coalition also provides free income tax assistance preparation to help accelerate IDA savings.

All local matching IDA funds are held in reserve until the qualifying asset or service is purchased and only then disbursed to the vendor. In addition, UWCA handles all the administrative responsibility. Banks may be eligible to receive CRA investment test credit by contributing matching funds and/or service test credit by holding the saver's account.

E-mail DeForrest Brown or call him at (205) 458-2056, or e-mail Shirley Worthington or call her at (205) 458-2073 for details on how to become involved.
[Published in News from the Districts, Community Developments, Spring 2008]

Top of Alabama Regional Council of Governments
Top of Alabama Regional Council of Governments (TARCOG) is a state-designated planning district operating in five northern Alabama counties. TARCOG provides funding access and technical assistance from programs of the Appalachian Regional Commission and Economic Development Administration. TARCOG staff support, write and administer grant and local program applications for HUD-funded state CDBG programs and USDA's Rural Development grant and loan programs. In addition, TARCOG has its own revolving loan fund (RLF). The RLF can provide additional financing to start-up and existing businesses behind a traditional commercial lender's financing. TARCOG is interested in working with banks that need a secondary source of financing to fund loans that create jobs. The loan can be used for business expansion or start-up of regional private for-profit firms. The fund can finance up to 50 percent of the total project cost or $125,000, whichever is less. The maximum amount allowed for working capital is $30,000. Terms are 10 years for land and building, 5-7 years for manufacturing/equipment, and 3 years for working capital. Rates are negotiable at or below prime.

For more information, contact Joe Howe, Project Officer at (256) 830-0818, or see their Web site at www.alarc.org/tarcog.
[Published in News from the Districts, Community Developments, Winter 2006-2007]