Executive Director’s Corner – Brian Doudna

Initiative Funding Network Launched – Applications Now Being Accepted!

The Wisconsin Economic Development Association (WEDA) has launched a new program to match its financial institution members with organizations, initiatives and projects involved in housing, small business, community, workforce and economic development. It’s called the CRA Network of Wisconsin.

The program will break down barriers between financial institutions (large, intermediate and small) and community organizations driving initiatives that meet Community Reinvestment Act (CRA) strategies of the various financial institutions.

The CRA Network is a method to close the information gap between the people who had CRA-qualified projects and the organizations who are interested in financing those projects or

Applications are now being accepted for regional meetings that will be held in June and July. These regional meetings will have a closed session component to hear presentations and to review potential funding decisions that could be a collaboration of multiple financial institutions.

Other states have similar efforts, but the one that is closest to the CRA Network is operated by the Federal Reserve Bank of Kansas City. Since forming in 2011, the Investment Connection has helped to place and track $30 million in CRA eligible projects. There are some video testimonials on its service, where members tell their stories of working with the network – www.kansascityfed.org/community/investmentconnection.

Ultimately, WEDA wants CRA Network members to use this platform to get projects done, to support their companies’ missions, and to grow communities across Wisconsin.

Here’s how it works:

  • Developers, municipalities and organizations, who have project proposals apply to www.cranetwork.org to present those projects at a closed session during one of the CRA Network’s regional meetings.
  • The project(s) must be in the area of affordable housing, community services, revitalization or stabilization, or economic development for small business or farms. This typically provides
    services to or are located in an LMI eligible area.
  • CRA Network member financial institutions attend presentations and connect with representatives of those projects they feel meet their investment criteria.
  • CRA Network members, its partners and WEDA will vet the applications to determine if they will meet the eligibility criteria for the member banks located in the region. Applications will be reviewed prior to the meeting to confirm eligibility or to restructure the project for greater appeal.