Federal loan to stimulate economic growth on Northside

LAFAYETTE, La. – News 15’s Jeff Horchak spoke to community members about a federal loan aimed at stimulating economic growth in northern Lafayette.

The aim is to bring ailing buildings back into circulation and to give underserved companies a chance to thrive.

Samuel Pierre, owner of Maid to Clean Vacuum Services and Repairs, says his company has been based in North Lafayette since 1973 and plans to continue his business there.

Kevin Blanchard says it could take a year to set up the CDFI fund’s loans.

The LPTFA received a $ 125,000 grant from the CDFI fund for technical assistance. The grant is designed to provide organizations with expert assistance in improving or establishing a Community Development Financial Institution (CDFI).

LPTFA has been providing mortgage and down payment assistance to first-time home buyers in the Lafayette market for more than 40 years. The formation of a CDFI will enable the LPTFA to expand these community lending activities in exciting ways, said Kevin Blanchard, executive director of LPTFA.

The technical assistance grant will help pay for professional advisory services and other activities that will help build the CDFI business plan over the next few months, Blanchard said.

CDFIs across the country engage in a variety of lending activities designed to fuel investment and economic development in disadvantaged communities.

The LPTFA has a particular interest in building a community development loan fund that would help provide small business loans and fuel 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 don’t want to compete with the credit unions in this market,” said Blanchard. Rather, we are trying to fill the gaps in the provision of credit, investment and financing services to people and businesses that are not always managed by traditional banks.

CDFIs also have access to competitively-awarded Capital Magnet Fund grants to help develop affordable housing. The LPTFA is also seeking certification as a Community Development Entity, which would enable the LPTFA to serve as a channel for New Market Tax Credits, Blanchard said.

The LPTFA is working with the United Way of Acadiana and the Lafayette Consolidated Government to create an investment plan to combat the food wasteland in North Lafayette – where the USDA has indicated that most North Lafayette census areas have limited access to fresh produce .

Creating a CDFI and associated loan fund can help support local entrepreneurs trying to offer better food options on the Northside, Blanchard said.

“There are many exciting opportunities, especially in North Lafayette,” said Blanchard. “We still have a lot to do to prepare, but we are reaching out to the community to help us with these important decisions.”

The LPTFA hired a nationally renowned consultant to develop a business plan for their CDFI activities and ultimately seek CDFI certification, Blanchard said.

About Thelma Wilt

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