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September 18, 2013

Three Community Lenders Awarded $8.25 Million
    by Robert Kropp

Opportunity Finance Network presents the 2013 Wells Fargo NEXT Awards for Opportunity Finance to three community lenders for their pioneering strategies for financial products and services in low-income communities. -- The NEXT Opportunity Awards have been an important annual high point for community development financial institutions (CDFIs) since their inception in 2007. Each year, $8.25 million is awarded to up to four institutions, in the form of $7.5 million in low-cost, long-term debt and $750,000 in unrestricted grant funding.

The awards are presented by Opportunity Finance Network (OFN), a national network of CDFIs.

The 2013 award recipients were announced this week. The California-based Opportunity Fund, a provider of microloans for small businesses, microsavings accounts, and community real estate financing, will receive $3 million to expand its EasyPay financial product. EasyPay allows small business owners who do not qualify for traditional financing to access capital and repay their loans automatically through daily credit and debit card sales, rather than as a lump-sum term payment each month.

NCB Capital Impact will receive $2.75 million toward its Woodward Corridor project in Detroit. NCB plans to develop up to 400 units of new affordable housing, create more than 500 construction and permanent jobs, create or expand more than 20 small businesses, and deploy $40 million of loan financing and $2 million of predevelopment financing over the next two to three years.

Housing Partnership Network of Boston will receive $2.5 million for the expansion of its Housing Partnership Equity Trust, the first real estate investment trust (REIT) launched by nonprofits to acquire and preserve affordable housing. The NEXT Award will allow for the fivefold expansion of the $100 million REIT over the next two years to fund the preservation and rehabilitation of more than 7,000 units of affordable housing.

“This year’s NEXT Awardees are finding solutions for communities that lack access to traditional financial products and services,” said Mark Pinsky, president and CEO of OFN. “By expanding their affordable and responsible financial products, CDFIs such as these are creating opportunities where there are none today.”

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