Guest Blogger: Dave Glaser, President, Montana & Idaho CDC
Last week, I had the pleasure of introducing Senator Steve Daines to speak at Opportunity Finance Network (OFN)’s annual conference in Washington D.C. As the nation’s leading national network of CDFIs (Community Development Finance Institutions), the annual OFN gathering welcomed 1,400 community lenders, policymakers, investors, and partners who serve individuals and communities that have been left outside the financial mainstream. Senator Daines has been a longtime supporter of the work of CDFIs in Montana, including Montana & Idaho CDC. We were fortunate to listen to him speak about the collective impact of the CDFI industry, as well as the personal, individual impacts he has seen in his home state of Montana.
Senator Daines opened his remarks by letting us in on a little secret: “As much as we try to take credit for it, politicians don’t create jobs!” Instead, jobs are created in communities across the country, and those communities rely on the support of CDFIs to deliver safe, flexible capital.
The Senator talked about individuals like Serena Rundberg, owner of Bozeman’s Nova Café, where the Senator likes to have brunch when he’s back home. As a start-up entrepreneur, Serena wasn’t able to access traditional bank financing when she needed to make some tenant improvements to her building, so she came to Montana & Idaho CDC, and we gave her a loan. When Serena wanted to open a second restaurant, then a third, we were there to help. Today, Serena’s restaurants have created dozens of jobs in Bozeman, and, as she said, “the financing we received has been instrumental to creating jobs in our community.”
As a three-time cosponsor of legislation to extend the New Markets Tax Credit (NMTC) program, the Senator also highlighted projects where this federal tool has incentivized investment in low-income Montana communities. The new headquarters of Universal Athletic Services has helped revitalize a targeted redevelopment area in Bozeman, and the Great Falls Rescue Mission helps not only homeless individuals, but families, get back on their feet during “those tough times in life.” As the Senator said, the jobs created through these projects have provided individuals with a sense of self-identity, definition, and purpose.
The CDFI community is lucky to have bi-partisan support in Congress, and is grateful for vocal proponents like Senator Daines who are committed to ensuring that our work moves forward to spark job growth, strengthen economies, and create opportunities in communities that need it most.
To view Senator Daines’ remarks click here.