The New Hampshire Community Development Finance Authority (CDFA) strengthens communities through a unique investment structure, offering local businesses community development tax credits in exchange for investments in vetted community projects. This neighbor-to-neighbor investment opportunity creates deeper-than-dollar bonds between businesses and organizations in the same community.
“Our financing vehicle can have a long-lasting impact,” says Executive Director Katy Easterly Marty. “It creates long-standing relationships that go far beyond the brick and mortar.” Easterly Marty cites numerous examples of investors putting sweat equity into the projects, including time, additional dollars and mentorship. By directing tax dollars to community investment, “businesses know they are improving the lives of their employees, themselves and ultimately improving their business’ ability to be successful,” says Easterly Martey.
The CDFA is a statewide nonprofit public authority, which offers financial and technical support to public-purpose projects. Its investments are diverse in scope, ranging from main street advancements to child-care facilities, mental health services, and arts and culture venues.
In 2018, the organization “awarded approximately 70 projects, infusing more than $11.47 million into community and economic development, as well as clean energy initiatives throughout New Hampshire. These projects have provided new jobs, healthy and safe affordable housing, helped revitalize Main Streets, improved public facilities, such as health facilities and water and sewer infrastructure, increased energy efficiency and assisted with emergency situation funding,” says Easterly Martey.
The projects that the CDFA supports are those that are most important to the communities. CDFA serves communities by listening to what they need, hosting public hearings, meeting with grantees and going on one-on-one site visits. Each community is in a different state of determining their needs, and this explains the diversity of projects that CDFA facilitates, whether creating more infrastructure to support basic human needs, such as the expansion of the Learning Center in Winchester, or funding an expansion of cultural opportunities, such as the MoCo Arts building in Keene. CFDA’s evaluation process for a project examines a community agency, the community’s desire for the project, the project developer and community capacity, financial underwriting and the community’s ability to support the project once it is completed.
CDFA supports the development of small business through technical assistance and access to loan capital. CDFA records show that the vast majority of business owners who receive technical and financial assistance from CDFA’s partners, like the Hannah Grimes Center and the Small Business Development Center, outgrow their low- and moderate-income qualifications that made them eligible in under three years. But just because a business outgrows the need for financial assistance from CDFA does not mean the end of the relationship. Once a partnership, begins between a CDFA and a business or community, CDFA is there to stay, to help the project meet goals and to help the community look toward future economic development.
“Communities are our main partner,” says Easterly Marty. “And, so, we work with those communities in perpetuity.”
CDFA also works as a connector of the diverse groups that work to support economic development on the ground.
New Hampshire’s strength as a state is built on the strength of its individual towns and communities. To support a strong economy, CDFA facilitates a reciprocally beneficial relationship between established businesses and new development, meeting communities where they are with an eye toward the future.