Unlocking Investment in Rural America

when you come to these smaller
communities we’re struggling. We gotta work work work just to keep food on the table. People are busy trying to survive just
get to the next day Increasingly we are seeing rural
communities become poorer. These communities have been ravaged over many
generations with a persistence of poverty. Twenty percent of the population
living below the poverty line for over 30 years. Over 30 years, one in five! Without investment in rural
America, America will not be a healthy and vibrant nation. I’ve lived here all my life 52 years of it and I love it my husband I mean his job’s good right
now, but you know the coal company like it is you know it’s getting worse. in Appalachia we’ve got communities that
haven’t had a good investment in a really long time in their facilities and
their housing. We have communities that don’t have access to clean drinking
water or sewer. One way that you bring the necessary infrastructure it takes to
create a real community is with Community Development Corporations.
Really everything imaginable I think it’s been done by CDC’s. Water projects,
sewer projects, medical centers, downtown revitalization, take childcare for
instance right here in Hazzard we’ve helped build two different facilities
with the local CDC here. I’m working granny, I dropped my little
six year old granddaughter up here at the day care is just $5 a day
for her. it helps me while I work. I probably couldn’t
work were I to keep her all the time. Good morning guys, how’d y’all how’s
everybody this morning We have the partnerships, we know the
communities, we are established in what we’re doing. The real barrier has to do
with the the consistency and the size of the money available. What we need is more gas in the car. I mean, like, capital is the fuel. We don’t have much of a private economy. Right now we’re 30 to 40 years behind the rest of the United States in our
infrastructure needs. Four bands is a certified community development
financial institution and we get our certification from the Department of
Treasury. There are CDFIs all across the United States. The thing that community development
financial institutions have his relationships within the community. “How’s your business going?” “Good, yeah it’s starting to get busy again.”
“Are you guys looking for a new location? “We want to.”
We know people are unfamiliar with lending so we also provide education around that to
increase their financial knowledge and capability they can consolidate their
debt with us and also build their credit My credit was kinda low so I
took a five-hundred-dollar loan and I would make, like 45 payments and all
my payments were, like, on time my credit was building and I like that. “Okay, let’s put this in the oven” We have something called a small
business revolving loan fund and we get the loan fund capital from different
sources. Sometimes – often times – it’s from the
federal government and it can come in the form of a loan or grant funds, so we
re-lend that out to the communities and entrepreneurs. The biggest challenge in
most of the federal government programs that are offered to build facilities to
do community projects is a match requirement. When you’re in an
impoverished area the capital resource isn’t there to
provide that matching component. That’s hard for a resource-strapped organization
especially someone as remote as us because we don’t have access to a lot of
the big foundations but when we do, it unlocks those resources for us. if you would drive around in the
Mississippi Delta there are small towns that people have
to drive so far to find a place to bank. It’s a banking desert. Since the recession in 2008, communities
across the country have lost bank branches in record numbers. Ninety-three percent of them have been
in low-income communities. Instead of banking branches, you’ll see payday lenders, check cashers,
pawn shops; predatory lenders who charge those who are most vulnerable exorbitant – what should be criminal – rates.
That’s why community development financial institutions are so vitally important. “How much are you actually putting in the
account?” “Twenty.”
“Twenty dollars? Okay.” With Hope Credit Union, our members are our owners, and so they are
the ones who benefit from any profits that are generated. Almost 40% of Hope members didn’t have a banking account before they joined the Credit Union. “Well I just borrowed three to four thousand dollars from Hope Credit Union to buy these two machines right here. It’s gonna help us a whole lot.” “We will be using Hope Credit Union when we… do whatever after the harvesting season.” “Oh, that’s a must!”
*laughter* A Colonia, traditionally, is an unincorporated neighborhood that vary in sizes from ten houses to like this one
there’s 6,000 people living here and it’s one of the poorest areas in the
United States. You know, when you are incorporated city then you are able to
access the tax base and access housing capital to build houses and here they’re
not and so they’re kind of stuck out in the cold and it takes organizations and
nonprofits and for-profits to come in and help try to do that. We build houses and we lend money. We do financial education; anything that we see that we
can do that our skillset will allow us to do we do to improve the community. Our organization builds 130 to 150 affordable housing units every single year but we
could build 10 times that it’s not like we don’t have the labor it’s not like we don’t have the clients and we don’t have the need. what we don’t have is enough money to do it. There are federal dollars waiting for us
to access if we can just get enough private equity funding and they will
unlock it. The good news is, we don’t need to invent the solution the solution’s right in front of us.
There are so many vibrant amazing organizations led by remarkable people
doing work on the ground in rural America. If we can build the kind of
collaboration, private philanthropy private sector would work together with
government; the result would be something transformational for America

One comment on “Unlocking Investment in Rural America”

  1. John White says:

    Unfortunately the Uplift America initiative video doesn't load/play

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