LAFAYETTE, Louisiana – News 15’s Jeff Horchak spoke to community members about a federal loan to boost economic growth on the north side of Lafayette.
The aim is also to put dilapidated buildings back into circulation and give underserved businesses a chance to thrive.
Samuel Pierre, owner of Maid to Clean Vacuum Services and Repairs, says his business has been located in northern Lafayette since 1973 and plans to continue operating his business there.
Kevin Blanchard says it could take a year for the loans from the CDFI Fund to be put in place.
The LPTFA received a technical assistance grant of $ 125,000 from the CDFI Fund. The grant is designed to provide expert assistance to organizations to improve or establish a Community Development Financial Institution, or CDFI.
For more than 40 years, the LPTFA has offered mortgage loans and down payment assistance to first-time buyers on the Lafayette market. The creation of a CDFI will allow the LPTFA to develop this community lending activity in an exciting way, said Kevin Blanchard, Executive Director of the LPTFA.
The technical assistance grant will help pay for professional consulting services and other activities that will help establish CDFI’s business plan over the coming months, Blanchard said.
CDFIs across the country engage in a variety of lending activities aimed at stimulating investment and economic development in disadvantaged communities.
The LPTFA is particularly interested in establishing a community development loan fund that would help provide loans to small businesses and generate economic development opportunities in North Lafayette. Currently, the only CDFIs based in Lafayette are credit unions – credit unions make up the majority of CDFIs in the country.
“We are not looking to compete with credit unions in this market,” Blanchard said. “On the contrary, we seek to fill the gaps that exist in the provision of loans, investments and financing services to people and businesses that are not always banked by traditional banks.”
CDFIs can also access competitively awarded Capital Magnet Fund grants to support the development of affordable housing. The LPTFA is also pursuing certification as a community development entity, which would allow the LPTFA to act as an intermediary for tax credits in new markets, Blanchard said.
The LPTFA is partnering with United Way of Acadiana and the Consolidated Government of Lafayette to develop a capital investment plan to tackle the food desert in North Lafayette – where the USDA has pointed out that most census tracts are low. North Lafayette income have limited access to fresh produce.
Creating a CDFI and the associated loan fund can help support local entrepreneurs trying to provide better grocery options in the Northside, Blanchard said.
“There are a lot of exciting opportunities out there, especially at North Lafayette,” Blanchard said. “We have a lot of work to do to prepare, but we are reaching out to the community to help us as we make these key decisions.”
The LPTFA retained the services of a nationally recognized consultant to help them develop a business plan for their CDFI activities and ultimately pursue CDFI certification, Blanchard said.