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Building Stronger More Vibrant Community: Virginia Community Capital

Posted on the 18 May 2012 by Blab

Building Stronger More Vibrant Community: Virginia Community CapitalOver the last five years, Virginia Community Capital has been busy building stronger, more vibrant communities. To date, the community development financial institution, or CDFI, has helped build or preserve more than 3,800 units of affordable rental housing, created (or helped communities hold on to) more than 1,100 jobs, and financed four community healthcare centers in medically underserved areas.

Virginia Community Capital comprises both a nonprofit loan fund and a for-profit bank, which recently earned B Corp certification. Launched in 2009, the banking arm is one of just 95 community development banks in the country, only 10 of which (including VCC) are owned entirely by nonprofits. Nonprofit ownership allows the bank to reinvest its profits in mission-aligned lending activities, supporting an increasingly large pool of projects in low- income or under-served markets throughout the state. Combined, the bank and the loan fund hold assets of about $85 million; the bank has about $20 million and is profitable.

While the organization’s structure is split, its mission is not. “Every loan that our organization does, at the loan fund and bank level, has to be focused on one of our four key areas,” Jane Henderson, CEO of VCC, said. “The first thing we do for every loan request is figure out how it relates to our mission.” VCC’s four focus areas are: affordable housing, community facilities (such as health care or child care), neighborhood and business district revitalization, and local economic development and job creation.

The VCC bank is a leading example of business bringing major benefits to the local community. Among its successes in 2011, the bank helped bring together financial resources to open a medical center with an on-site pharmacy in Floyd, Virginia, a medically underserved area. This center provides vital medical services to low- income and underserved residents of this Appalachian region and created seven full-time jobs.

The bank’s commitment to the community goes well beyond its lending efforts, however. The multi-faceted mission of the organization integrates two complementary lines of business with lending: advisory services and savings.

Through a federal grant program, VCC launched a small business development program aimed at building capacity and growth in small, woman- and minority-owned businesses during the economic downturn. The program, Supporting the Economic Expansion of Diverse Suppliers (SEEDS), worked with 10 small business to develop their business skills and help owners better manage their operations, from cash flows to human resources. All participating companies have survived the economic turmoil of the past two years and collectively created 141 jobs with an average hourly wage of $14.60, many of them with benefits. Furthermore, 70 percent of these positions were filled by workers who were previously unemployed.

VCC Savings promotes financial literacy through several high-profile partnerships and encourages individual savings for all income levels with innovative vehicles like Virginia Individual Development Accounts and employer-based savings programs. Unlike traditional banks that exist to serve only their shareholders, VCC exists to serve its community. As CEO Henderson states, “We’re bankers with a heart.”

This post originally appeared in the 2012 B Corp Annual Report.

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