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Article Archives: Pennsylvania

Small Loans, Big Returns
Ways to Work (WtW) is a nonprofit, community development financial institution that helps lower-income people. WtW is designed to help borrowers attain financial independence and advance economically by having money to purchase dependable used cars to get to work or school. Since 1996, WtW has originated nearly 12,000 loans for more than $31 million and the average auto loan amounts to an average $3,400. Results of a 2006 WtW evaluation indicate that borrowers reported an average increase of 41 percent in their take-home pay. In addition, 67 percent of WtW borrowers report that they have used conventional financial services subsequent to receiving their WtW loans.

Headquartered in Milwaukee, WtW makes its loans from 43 offices in 21 states: California, Delaware, Florida, Hawaii, Illinois, Indiana, Louisiana, Maryland, Michigan, Minnesota, Missouri, New York, North Carolina, Ohio, Oregon, Pennsylvania, South Dakota, Texas, Virginia, Washington, and Wisconsin.

WtW offices are located in social service agencies affiliated with the Alliance of Children and Families (ACF). ACF agencies screen and provide financial education to borrowers and service the loans. WtW local offices provide financial education to more than three persons for every individual who receives a loan. Investors in WtW include several national foundations, the Community Development Financial Institution Fund of the U.S. Treasury Department, local United Way offices, and financial institutions. Banks can be involved by investing in the national WtW loan fund, by referring to local WtW offices prospective borrowers who do not meet conventional credit criteria, by participating in local WtW loan committees, and by providing grants and in-kind donations to WtW.

For more information, contact President Jeff Faulkner at (414) 359-1448 ext. 2, e-mail him, or visit his Web site.

[Community Developments Investments, Fall 2008]

Pennsylvania Provides Assistance for Low-Income Communities Across the State
The Pennsylvania Housing Finance Agency recently created a nonprofit corporation, the Commonwealth Cornerstone Group (CCG). CCG will help expand the development of for-sale housing, community facilities, and mixed use commercial/residential properties in distressed communities. Commonwealth Cornerstone Group was created by the Pennsylvania Housing Finance Agency (PHFA). CCG funds projects that meet the needs of low-income communities in Pennsylvania. The corporation was recently awarded $60,000,000 as part of the New Market Tax Credit Program. It will be a statewide program with 60 percent of the tax credits targeted to major urban areas across the state. The remaining 40 percent will be used in smaller urban and rural areas. The funds will provide debt and equity for business expansion, mixed-use development, affordable housing, and community facilities. For further information, contact the PHFA at www.phfa.org.
[Published in News from the Districts, Community Developments, Spring-2007]

Appalachian Region's Progress Fund Expands
Tourism in the Appalachian region of Ohio is getting a boost from the Progress Fund, a certified community development financial institution (CDFI) lending needed capital and providing entrepreneurial coaching to small businesses in the travel and tourism industry.

Using a start-up grant of $200,000 from the State of Ohio, the Progress Fund is expanding its service area, currently encompassing 39 counties in Pennsylvania and West Virginia, into the 29 counties of Ohio's Appalachian region. The Progress Fund supports the niche industry of tourism businesses, including bed and breakfasts, brew-pubs, general stores, restaurants, museums, and similar small businesses that attract and serve visitors in rural areas. The Progress Fund is currently seeking investors to capitalize its Ohio expansion. Investors are asked to invest a minimum of $100,000 to help meet the organization's goal of a $5 million fund by 2007. Terms are flexible and negotiated individually with investors. Examples of previous investment terms have included a non-amortizing, 10-year loan at below market interest rates.

To invest in any of the Progress Funds, please contact David Kahley, CEO, at (724) 529-0384, or visit its Web site, www.progressfund.org.

[Published in News from the Districts, Community Developments Investments, Spring 2006]

Small Allocations of New Markets Tax Credits Can Go a Long Way
Even relatively small New Markets Tax Credit (NMTC) allocations can make a big difference to neighborhood businesses, as two Northeast District community development entities have set out to prove. Although the average first round NMTC allocation was $38 million, some enterprising organizations are planning big changes in their local communities with allocations of $1 million or less. That is the case with Boston's Roxbury-based Nuestra Development Fund that will use its $1 million dollar allocation to provide subordinated debt to small, community-based businesses seeking capital to purchase or rehabilitate their properties. In Pittsburgh, the Northside Community Development Fund received the smallest NMTC allocation - $500,000 - but has big plans for helping local small businesses. It will use its allocation to offer microenterprise loans, provide gap financing, and offer counseling services to neighborhood small businesses.

Contacts: Evelyn Friedman at Nuestra Development Fund (617) 989-1202; Linda LeFever at Northside Community Development Fund (412) 322-0290.

[Published in News from the Districts, Community Developments, Winter 2003]