CDFI Banks in the Southeast: Embracing Opportunities and Addressing Challenges - August 29, 2016

The Federal Reserve Bank of Atlanta and Federal Home Loan Bank of Atlanta hosted a forum in Jackson, Mississippi, to explore priorities, opportunities, strategies, regulatory issues, and other timely topics affecting community development financial institution (CDFI) banks in the Southeast. The Community Development Bankers Association, the National Bankers Association, and the National Community Investment Fund were partners on the August 29 event.

The morning sessions discussed regional challenges facing customers and partners of CDFI banks in the Southeast—from poverty to job losses, stagnant incomes, access to capital, and the impact these challenges will have on the next generation of children growing up in distressed communities. On a more positive note, participants shared examples of hopeful and inspired concepts under way, such as financing local food systems and working with local public officials on infrastructure projects, schools, community facilities, and lending to small businesses that are expanding to reach new markets. There was consensus that CDFI banks are anchor institutions in many distressed places around the country and region; Annie Donovan, director of the Treasury Department's CDFI Fund, noted that being a CDFI "is not just about deal-making, it's about transformation."

The forum also highlighted actionable, collaborative opportunities that exist, including:

  • Consider ways the Atlanta Fed, along with its partners, could facilitate more productive connections between CDFI banks and financial technology (fintech) companies to serve new markets and create new revenue streams.
  • Consider how the Atlanta Fed, along with its partners, could help better equip bank examiners with real-time information on CDFIs, the impact that they have, and the mission they serve.