LISC’s Black Economic Development Fund hits $250 million goal, makes first catalytic investments in Black-led banks, real estate developers
The Black Economic Development Fund (BEDF), managed by the Local Initiatives Support Corporation (LISC), has reached its $250 million goal for capital to invest in Black-led banks, anchor institutions, businesses, and real estate developers, and is now rolling out its first investments.
The BEDF, launched last summer, is part of LISC’s Project 10X, a $1 billion strategy to address racial gaps in health, wealth, and opportunity. The private investment fund has raised capital from 11 public and private corporations, with McKinsey and Company recently coming in with $15 million.
“We’re excited about the outpouring of interest from impact investors because it speaks not only to the quality of the fund but to a deepening recognition that access to capital is what facilitates access to opportunity,”George Ashton, Managing Director of LISC Strategic Investments
“Impact investors are aligning their treasury strategies with their missions in order to fuel a stronger economic base for their businesses and economic justice for their customers,” he added.
With the BEDF now fully subscribed, LISC also announced the fund’s first five investments this week, with as many as 20 additional fund investments expected by year end. These initial transactions include deposits in two Black-owned banks to help build their capacity, as well as diverse loans to three Black-owned real estate development companies that are building and expanding economic opportunity and jobs in the communities where they operate.
The common thread is that these firms—like so many minority-led enterprises—have not generally had access to the flexible capital they need to grow. LISC’s goal is to provide financing that helps them expand their businesses, while also helping lay the groundwork for other investors to follow.
- Optus Bank, Columbia, S.C.: The BEDF made a $4 million deposit in this century-old bank that makes 90 percent of its loans in under-invested communities and to minority and/or women-owned businesses and homeowners. Optus Bank is a community development financial institution (CDFI) and has a strategy to build $100 million in local Black wealth over the next 10 years.
- Unity National Bank, Houston: Unity is the only Black-owned bank in Texas (it also operates in Atlanta). The BEDF made a $3 million deposit to help the bank grow its investments in small businesses, especially in minority population centers, and pursue partnerships to finance affordable housing development.
- Dantes Partners, Washington, D.C.: This privately held firm develops and preserves affordable and workforce housing in Washington, D.C. and the New York City area, delivering more than 2,300 units to date. The BEDF structured a $5 million predevelopment credit facility to help Dantes Partners preserve and build 3,000 additional units of affordable housing in the next few years.
- Bridging the Gap (BTG), Pittsburgh: BTG is a private real estate development firm focused on advancing healthy, sustainable developments. The BEDF made a short-term $1.5 million predevelopment loan to support a new project called Fifth and Dinwiddie, which when completed will bring 171 mixed-income apartments to Pittsburgh’s Uptown district. The predevelopment financing was the missing piece of the capital stack for this project, which is one of the largest housing development sites in the city and part of Pittsburgh’s “EcoInnovation” plan for the community.
- Phoenix Adams Rising, Jacksonville, Fla.: The BEDF’s $5.3 million bridge loan is helping the project’s sponsor, Eugene Profit, stabilize a six-story apartment building for students at Florida State College of Jacksonville, where approximately one-third of the population identifies as Black American. The project is located in downtown Jacksonville, near to campus, and is part of broader revitalization efforts in the city’s core.
“The Black Economic Development Fund allows us to make an impact by investing in Black and Brown talent who want to be in this industry and ensure they prosper,” noted Buwa Binitie, with Dantes Partners. “The investment represents freedom for us to be who we want to be and own our projects. It allows us to scale in ways that we never quite imagined. In very short order you are going to start seeing ribbon cuttings for the transactions for which this fund is activating.”
“All five of these transactions illustrate the power of inclusive investing,” noted Lisa Glover, LISC president and CEO. “They fuel Black-led businesses and benefit communities of color, and they also contribute to the broader landscape of regional economic opportunity by catalyzing jobs, local income, commercial activity and quality-of-life gains. They are helping build a broadly shared prosperity, well beyond the individual activities supported by each investment.”
Investors in the fund include: Netflix, which helped launch the fund, Paypal, Costco, Square, Inc., Aflac, Wayfair, DuPont, McKinsey and Co., ThermoFisher, HubSpot, and Dicks Sporting Goods.
“Fueling social mobility and opportunity like this was our vision for kicking off the Black Economic Development Fund last summer,” said Aaron Mitchell, director of HR, and Shannon Alwyn, director of treasury, with Netflix. “More and more companies recognize that redirecting capital to Black-led institutions improves equity at the grassroots level, and we invite other corporations to do the same.”
Ashton noted that even though the BEDF is fully subscribed, LISC continues to work with funders and investors on multiple ways to fuel social and economic justice as part of Project 10X. That includes individual grants and loans through LISC’s 37 local program offices and national Rural LISC investment program, as well as vehicles like the Entrepreneurs of Color Fund, local housing and economic development funds, impact-focused Opportunity Zones partnerships, and community investment accelerators that respond to local needs.
“We are using all the tools at our disposal to drive progress for people and communities—especially as we begin to emerge from COVID-19,” Ashton said. “We are being intentional about how and with whom we invest to make sure our capital helps break down barriers to success, supports the financial and impact goals of our investment partners, and helps our economy work better for everyone.”
With residents and partners, LISC forges resilient and inclusive communities of opportunity across America – great places to live, work, visit, do business and raise families. Since 1979, LISC has invested $24 billion to build or rehab more than 463,320 affordable homes and apartments and develop 74.4 million square feet of retail, community and educational space. For more, visit www.lisc.org.
About the Black Economic Development Fund
The Black Economic Development Fund (BEDF) is an impact investment fund built to address economic challenges in Black communities and to help close the racial wealth gap. The fund targets Black-led financial institutions, businesses, real estate developers and anchor institutions with the goal of growing these organizations and strengthening their contributions to Black communities. The fund deploys capital across a diverse set of industries, borrowers and geographies in the United States. The BEDF is managed by the Local Initiatives Support Corporation (LISC) Strategic Investments team and LISC Fund Management, LLC, a LISC affiliate. For more information on the BEDF, please visit https://www.liscstrategicinvestments.org//black-economic-development-fund