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FT. LAUDERDALE, Fla. and MINNEAPOLIS – With the goal of raising $50 million for small business development, a mutual fund is hoping to speed up the recovery in areas hit hardest by Hurricane Katrina. The CRA Qualified Investment Fund (CRAFund) has a $15 million stake in small business loans and is seeking to expand that amount to $50 million in support of a business investment initiative that focuses on minority communities and communities hit by Hurricane Katrina and other natural disasters, according to CRAFund Advisors, the creator of the fund and Community Reinvestment Fund, a nonprofit organization that helps bring capital to community-development lenders through the secondary market for loans. Last November, CRAFund said it would invest $100,000 in $38 million HOPE Community Credit Union and two banks to assist in helping to rebuild the Gulf Coast. The investments are a part of CRAFund’s $100 million Gulf Coast Redevelopment initiative. HOPE, which serves communities in Arkansas, Louisiana and Mississippi, said it will use the proceeds to help provide business recovery loans, non-profit recovery loans, and consumer recovery products and services in FEMA-designated assistance areas. New Orleans-based Liberty Bank and Trust Co. and Southern Development Bankcorp. of Arkadelphia, Ark. were to also receive $100,000 each from CRAFund. CRAFund held a Feb. 16 news conference that detailed how investors could participate. Founded in 1999, CRAFund Advisors has $650 million in assets under management.

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