One benefit of hosting a conference in Washington, D.C. is the opportunity for OFN and CDFIs to network and engage with members of Congress. We started our time together with our CDFIs Invest on the Hill event, and timely conversations with members of Congress on both sides of the aisle.
Over the next few days, four members of Congress visited with us in the ballroom at the Hilton to express their support for the work of CDFIs both on a national level and in their home districts. On Wednesday, Sen. Jeff Merkley (OR) and Rep. Tom Graves (GA-16) spoke to attendees during the Opening Plenary. Merkley spoke of the economic inequalities that continue to grow, and paraphrasing Franklin Roosevelt, he said “we are not doing enough for those who have little…but we are doing more and that is because of the great work of CDFIs.” Rep. Graves also championed CDFIs, stating “CDFIs play a vital role – you know that and we recognize that in Congress.”
And on Thursday, during the Congressional Welcome Sen. Steve Daines (MT) recounted the CDFI impact he has personally witnessed in Montana, “our jobs are part of our identity, it is who we are. When you don’t have a job it is a struggle for a lot of reasons…so what you are doing is very noble and it is an important mission. What you do each day, each job really, really matters.” He was followed by Rep. Keith Ellison (MN-5) who said, “I want to thank you for being there for aspiring business people…for folks who just want a place to live, a house…people rely on the capital that you provide, and for that service, our country owes you a tremendous debt of gratitude.” And although she could not attend personally, Sen. Shelley Moore Capito (WV) sent encouraging remarks.