CHICAGO and MILWAUKEE, June 17, 2014 /PRNewswire/ -- The Federal Home Loan Bank of Chicago (Bank) today launched the Community First™ Fund, a $50 million revolving loan fund that provides direct support to community development financial institutions, community development loan funds, and state housing authorities serving Illinois and Wisconsin. The Community First Fund is unique in the Federal Home Loan Bank System and provides organizations with lower-interest-rate, longer-term financing that focuses on expanding their capacity for affordable housing and economic development lending in the communities they serve. The Bank is pleased to announce that the Wisconsin Women's Business Initiative Corporation (WWBIC) has been selected as the first fund partner and is the recipient of a $1.25 million 10-year loan.
"This new type of funding gives us the ability to support the communities served by our member financial institutions more strategically," said Matt Feldman, President and CEO, Federal Home Loan Bank of Chicago. "The establishment of the Community First Fund marks a new chapter in community investment and we look forward to working with our members and partner organizations on making this broader vision a reality."
"We are seeing a fundamental shift throughout community development organizations towards a more holistic approach to community development," added Suzi Thackston, Community Investment Officer, Federal Home Loan Bank of Chicago. "The fund aligns our community investment initiatives with this new perspective by giving organizations the resources they need to employ their expertise and allocate funds according to the demands they see at the local level."
Among the unique features of the fund is its capacity to support economic development in addition to the Bank's traditional emphasis on affordable housing. To illustrate this more balanced approach, WWBIC, an organization committed to economic development in both urban and rural areas across the state of Wisconsin, was selected as the first partner of the Community First Fund.
"We are thrilled with this investment from the Federal Home Loan Bank of Chicago," said Wendy K. Baumann, President and Chief Visionary Officer, WWBIC. "It will allow us to keepchanging lives—helping individuals realize their dreams by creating new jobs and businesses—while going further and deeper into our target markets in rural areas, in low-income urban areas, and in the Spanish-speaking community."
The Community First Fund loan represents the largest investment in WWBIC to date. Funding will be used to provide lending capital for small business development and to offer micro-loans to businesses that may not qualify for traditional loans from financial institutions. WWBIC forecasts the creation or retention of more than 400 jobs over a 10-year period as a result of the funding.
"WWBIC's impact on small business creation, expansion, and sustainability, as well as job creation and retention, is evident throughout the state of Wisconsin," said Thackston. "We look forward to our partnership and are excited to see the growth of their initiatives as a result of this investment."
The Community First Fund is a revolving loan fund. The Bank expects to be able to continue lending as loans are repaid, extending the life of the fund. The Community First Fund is separate from the Bank's Community Investment Cash Advances lending program. In addition, it is funded separately from the Bank's traditional grant programs—the competitive Affordable Housing Program and Downpayment Plus® Programs—which will continue to be funded by the Bank's previous year's net earnings.
About the Federal Home Loan Bank of Chicago
The Federal Home Loan Bank of Chicago is a $72.0 billion wholesale bank serving the needs of member housing finance institutions located in Illinois and Wisconsin. Our mission is to partner with our member shareholders to provide them competitively priced funding, a reasonable return on their investment, and support for community investment activities.
The U.S. Congress created the Federal Home Loan Bank System, which includes 12 Federal Home Loan Banks, in 1932 to promote housing finance, but each Bank is wholly owned by its member institutions. For more information about the Federal Home Loan Bank of Chicago, please visit www.fhlbc.com. "Community First" is a trademark of the Federal Home Loan Bank of Chicago. "Downpayment Plus" is a registered trademark of the Federal Home Loan Bank of Chicago.
About the Wisconsin Women's Business Initiative Corporation
The Wisconsin Women's Business Initiative Corporation (WWBIC) has provided quality business and financial education coupled with access to fair capital and financial products for more than 27 years. Since WWBIC was incorporated as a 501(c)(3) in 1987, it has loaned $34.4 million to 2,500 business borrowers, helped entrepreneurs create and retain 8,000 jobs, assisted 50,000 clients, and assisted 138 individuals and families in purchasing their own homes through its asset-building program. For more information about the Wisconsin Women's Business Initiative Corporation, please visit www.wwbic.com.