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Nation founds lending body
Written by Staff Reporter   
Wednesday, 04 April 2007 13:27

Next week, on Monday, April 9, the Yavapai-Apache Nation starts to make its new Community Development Financial Institution a reality when its new executive director, Mike Casebier, former grants administrator for the town of Camp Verde, takes the helm.

Two years in the works, the new institution is a lending body targeting American Indian communities specifically and the Verde Valley in general.
“I’m really excited about this opportunity,” Casebier said. “This is about economic community and economic development, certainly for the Nation and for the Verde Valley as a whole.”

In late 2005, the Nation received a technical assistance grant to fund the office staff and support structure for the new CDFI. After working with several consultants and the tribe’s own economic development authority, the structure for the CDFI has been mapped out.

According to Trapper Moore, part of the seven-member board of directors of the CDFI, the next step will be to work on an additional federal grant that will be matched by the Nation and that will “secure a large sum of money to begin lending.”

The U.S. Department of the Treasury funds over 700 CDFIs across the country to help low-income or otherwise disadvantaged people receive business and personal loans.

CDFIs precursors have been around since the 1960s, as part of President Lyndon Johnson’s “War on Poverty,” but they really took off in the ’90s.
In 1994, Congress mandated a study of lending and investment practices in tribal communities nationwide, which led to a renewed commitment on the part of the Treasury Department to helping establish CDFIs among American Indian tribes.

Sammy Rabino, administrator for the Nation’s economic development author-ity, said the new CDFI would bring economic parity to the Nation as a whole.

“The vision of CDFI will be to focus on increasing financial assets in the tribal communities so that in the future the Nation will be as affluent as other non-native communities,” Rabino said. “The CDFI will not be directly affiliated with [Economic Development Administration]. Instead, the EDA department and the CDFI will work closely on high-priority economic projects.”

According to the CDFI Coalition, an ad-hoc policy development and advocacy initiative based in Washington, D.C., “CDFIs measure success by focusing on the ‘double bottom line’: economic gains and the contributions they make to the local community. CDFIs rebuild businesses, housing, voluntary organizations and services central to revitalizing our nation’s poor and working class neighborhoods.”

According to the CDFI Coalition Web site, CDFIs make economic waves throughout the communities they serve:

“Not only do local organizations make the decisions about how to best meet community needs, the ripple effects of CDFI activity bring responsible homeowners, locally-owned businesses, neighborhood facilities, first-time savers and other positive benefits to communities that reach far beyond the financial bottom line.”

Moore says the Nation’s CDFI will fill a gap for tribal members.

“The development of a CDFI will allow the Nation to establish a financial institution that can provide funds to develop infrastructure and finance projects that private lenders omit from financing because of high risk or lack of equity,” Moore said.

Casebier is looking forward to starting his new job and has praise for his new employers.

“The Nation has great vision,” Casebier said. “They’ve done a lot of work over many years to put this together — especially Chairman [Jamie] Fullmer
himself. He has been the driving force behind this.”


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