Apr 15, 2023
HVADC was recently certified as a Community Development Financial Institution (CDFI) with a focus on lending to farm and food enterprises in economically disadvantaged communities throughout Albany, Columbia, Dutchess, Orange, Rensselaer, Sullivan, Ulster and Washington counties.
CDFI certified organizations such as HVADC are able to inject new sources of capital into neighborhoods and to populations that lack access to financing and provide Business Technical Assistance (BTA) to small businesses.
Certified by the U.S. Department of the Treasury’s Community Development Financial Institutions Fund (the CDFI Fund), CDFIs are mission-driven financial institutions that are dedicated to providing financial services and investing in local communities and the residents who live there by providing critically needed financing often unavailable from mainstream financial institutions.
HVADC is now the only CDFI in the region exclusively dedicated to providing funding to farm and food enterprises. To become a certified CDFI, HVADC pursued a rigorous certification and compliance process. FUND Consulting, LLC assisted with the coordination of the application.
“From December 2021 - March 2023, HVADC went through the CDFI Fund's rigorous Certification review process, successfully meeting all seven Certification tests. Given that HVADC is the Hudson Valley's sole economic development agency focused on the viability of the region's agricultural economy, the organization clearly communicated to the CDFI Fund the key role it plays in providing technical assistance and channeling resources to agribusinesses in the region,” said Jennifer Weitzel, Managing Consultant, FUND Consulting.
In addition to its focus on agribusiness, HVADC’s CDFI accreditation was based upon its expressed commitment to serve African American and Hispanic enterprises in census tracts the CDFI Fund has deemed as low-income within the designated counties in both rural and urban areas.
“Some CDFIs address agriculture as only part of their portfolio, and HVADC is now one of the very few in the country with a specific focus on agribusiness, “said Todd Erling, Executive Director, HVADC. “HVADC is now positioned well to apply for U.S. Department of Treasury programs in the fall and I am confident we can bring additional funding into the Hudson Valley,” he added
The HVADC CDFI is being guided by a CDFI Advisory Group which includes representation from the various communities the program serves. The advisory group and its members are tasked with assessing funding applications and seeking potential program recipients. Group members include Kate Arding, Co-owner of Talbott and Arding, Hudson; Elizabeth Druback-Celaya, Director, Community Initiatives, NeighborWorks America, Poughkeepsie; Tamika Dunkley, CEO, Seasoned Delicious Foods, Lake Katrine; Denise Frangipane, CEO, Sullivan 180, Bethel; John Gilstrap, Founder of Awaken.Space and Ravenscourt Partners, Hudson; and Brandon Walker, Owner, Essie’s Restaurant, Poughkeepsie. At HVADC, CDFI programs are coordinated by Duane Stanton, Business Services Coordinator.
“HVADC has made a commitment to diversity, equity and inclusion and we have been working toward those goals through this effort and staff trainings on equitable lending. We will continue our work as an ally by listening and learning. Now being a CDFI allows us to formalize the operations and process of access to BTA and capital, making it more relevant for some of the farmers and food producers in our region,” said Mary Ann Johnson, Deputy Director, HVADC.
CDFIs are illustrative of innovative public-private partnerships developed to leverage taxpayer dollars for greater impact in communities across America. They use limited taxpayer dollars appropriated by the U.S. Congress and awarded by the CDFI Fund to leverage even more capital and credit from the private sector, multiplying their impact. CDFIs create even greater impact by relending capital once a loan is repaid, keeping their awards working in their communities and strengthening the local economic growth.
“The NYS CDFI Coalition is proud to welcome The Hudson Valley Agribusiness Development Corporation as they begin their journey as a CDFI. We saw during the COVID-19 pandemic how volatile our food and agriculture supply chain can be when under significant financial stress. HVADC seeks to ensure that these farm and food enterprises throughout the Hudson Valley and Capital Region are properly funded and supported for years to come,” said Linda McFarland, Board President, NYS CDFI Coalition, and Executive Director, Community Loan Fund of Capital Region, Inc.
To learn more about the BTA and loans that HVADC provides to farms and food producers, visit www.hvadc.org.