Local Government Federal Credit Union has demonstrated its commitment to community development with a $1.625 million gift.
A joint venture between the Raleigh, N.C.-based credit union and the University of North Carolina School of Government means cities, towns and counties lacking the capacity to build their own development finance tools will not only have the assistance to do so, but also the vested interest of a financial institution.
"Major financial institutions are often not interested in small-scale economic development projects, like retrofitting an abandoned downtown building or helping increase storefront signage along Main Street," said LGFCU President Maurice Smith. "They may also not be willing to help local governments maneuver through the red tape involved with other supplemental sources of funding, like tax credits."
The first of two programs being developed, Expanding Development Finance in North Carolina, will help create new opportunities for economically distressed communities by increasing their access to often-complicated development finance products and services. LGFCU is granting the SOG $1 million for this five-year project, after which it is expected to become self-sustaining.
The second part of the initiative, the LGFCU Fellows Executive Development Program, will be aimed at mid-level managers in local government, teaching them the skills to build and manage successful development finance programs. The $625,000 grant to develop this program will also subsidize course registration fees for three groups of fellows, which Smith said is especially important right now when many local governments are being forced to cut back on training and development. This program is expected to become self-sustaining after four years.
"We believe we are creating a new industry," said Smith. "We frequently see that local governments want to help themselves, but sometimes a simple lack of resources is the only inhibitor. These programs will help communities that have the desire and knowledge to take on economic development initiatives; they just need the tools and resources to take it from theory to application."