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Notes from the field: Southern Growth Forum in Louisiana

NEW YORK, NY (July 16, 2019) — In May, I traveled to New Orleans for Inclusiv’s first-ever Southern Growth Forum, where community development credit unions, banks, grantmakers, investors, technology providers, policymakers, and advocates gathered to share proven growth strategies that create economic and social impact and racial justice for people and place in the South.

Many national and local community development credit unions (CDCUs) attended, including 1st Choice Credit UnionASI Federal Credit UnionCitizens Choice Federal Credit UnionEngage Federal Credit UnionEssential Federal Credit UnionFerguson Federal Credit UnionHope Credit UnionLocal Government Federal Credit UnionMeritus Credit UnionNeighbors Federal Credit UnionPhenix Pride Federal Credit UnionSouthern Teachers & Parents Federal Credit Union, andW.B.R.T Federal Credit Union. At the forum, credit union leaders had the opportunity to connect with stakeholders interested in increasing the breadth and depth of the grants and loans that they make to credit unions serving low-income individuals, families, and businesses in the region.

We kicked off the day with welcoming remarks from Bob Gallman, President/CEO of the Louisiana Credit Union League, which is committed to providing timely resources to its credit union members – both large and small – in the state of Louisiana. Afterwards, we held an impact panel that included local credit unions that are delivering best-in-class solutions to urban, suburban, and rural, underserved communities within their fields of membership. These included payday alternative loans, small business loans, and financial counseling and coaching among others. This group showed us that community-focused credit unions are more relevant now than ever.

We also had the honor of hearing from Representative Edmond Jordan, Democratic member of the Louisiana House of Representatives, who provided us with new insights into his legislative work to combat predatory lending throughout the state. This comes at a pivotal moment in state history as Rep. Jordan and credit union leaders have come together to introduce legislation to limit interest rates on payday loans to 36%, which is comparable to limits for our service members.

Later in the day, we held additional panels and discussions on innovative financing and how credit unions are increasingly using Inclusiv’s secondary capital program, as well as new market tax credits and opportunity zones, to serve their communities more deeply. In addition to hearing thelatest research on the power of community investment, we had an opportunity to hear directly from credit unions about the benefits of secondary capital – leveraged by growing CDCUs to expand safe and affordable lending to local communities – and how we can reduce barriers to access through our programs, products, and technical assistance.

At the forum, we also presented the Pathways to Financial Empowerment program’s work that we’re doing with hyper-local credit unions to expand rural financial counseling and coaching. These services are often the main gateway to safe, affordable financial products, including auto loans, necessary for members living in rural communities to get to work. Participants also discussed financial empowerment initiatives in Atlanta, where our On the Rise Financial Center, in collaboration with local CDFI partners, promotes financial inclusion by providing residents of Atlanta’s historic Westside with financial education classes, one-to-one financial coaching and access to affordable accounts and loans. The Center is also a flagship Pathways location.

With the generous support of Capital One and the Kresge Foundation, Inclusiv has a growing number of committed partners that are working hand-in-hand with us to provide solutions to the communities that need us the most. Together, we are hosting regional events, such as this forum, and investing capital, dispersing new technology, and more to expand financial inclusion and access in rural communities. For more information about Pathways and our work with Southern rural credit unions, please contact Ann Solomon at asolomon@inclusiv.org. If you would like to learn more about Inclusiv secondary capital and our capital investing in the Southeastern United States, please contact Cathi Kim, Director of Inclusiv/Capital, at ckim@inclusiv.org.

Representative Edmond Jordan, Democratic member of the Louisiana House of Representatives, provided the group with new insights into his legislative work.


About Inclusiv

At Inclusiv, we believe that true financial inclusion and empowerment is a fundamental right. We dedicate ourselves to closing the gaps and removing barriers to financial opportunities for people living in distressed and underserved communities. Inclusiv is a certified CDFI intermediary that transforms local progress into lasting national change. We provide capital, make connections, build capacity, develop innovative products and services and advocate for our member community development credit unions (CDCUs). Inclusiv members serve over 14 million residents of low-income urban, rural and reservation-based communities across the US and hold over $184 billion in community-controlled assets. Founded in 1974, Inclusiv is headquartered in New York, NY, with offices in Madison, WI and Atlanta, GA. For more information about Inclusiv visit us at Inclusiv.org and connect with us on FacebookLinkedIn and Twitter.
Inclusiv was instrumental in establishing the CDFI Fund in 1994, is a permanent member of the national CDFI Coalition and is the CDFI and community finance authority for the credit union industry. Our member CDCUs represent over 10 million members in low-income communities across the US, representing the majority of all CDFI-certified credit unions. Today, CDFI certification is an essential credential for credit unions with a focus on financial inclusion. Inclusiv is the credit union industry's best resource for learning more about certification and technical and financial assistance grants. For more information on our advocacy on behalf of CDFI credit unions, click here.

Contacts

Clarissa Ritter
critter@inclusiv.org

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