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Native initiatives garner CDFI awards

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WASHINGTON - The CDFI Fund has made 28 grants to Native groups for local
economic development, bringing to 41 awards and $8.5 million this unit of
the U.S. Treasury has granted in Indian country this year.

Native initiatives earned $7.6 million out of a total of $57.8 million
announced in the most recent round of funding, a 13 percent share. The
other $900,000 was announced earlier this year.

The CDFI Fund administers three Native programs: The Native American CDFI
Development Program, the Native American Technical Assistance program and
the Native American CDFI Assistance program.

By far the biggest grants were awarded under the NACA program, $6.7
million. NACD recipients earned $600,000 in grants, while NATA recipients
got $300,000. Earlier, NACD awarded $500,000 to Native groups, and NATA
awarded $373,000.

One Native group got more than $1 million from NACA, and a few more got
nearly that much.

CDFIs, community development financial institutions, make loans in or
invest in economically-distressed areas. Until recently there have been few
Native CDFIs, which is why the Fund started its technical assistance and
CDFI start-up programs for Natives.

Minnesota Indian Economic Development Fund, St. Paul, Minn., was awarded
$1,130,000 (including a $130,000 technical assistance grant) for its
business loan fund. The group, a CDFI, intends to use the money to make
loans and technical assistance grants to stimulate Native-owned businesses.

In the same state, Minnesota Chippewa Tribal Housing Corp., Cass Lake,
received $961,783, most of it in the form of loan capital to support its
affordable housing and business lending products. $12,000 of the amount was
for technical assistance.

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In South Dakota, the Kyle-based First Nations Oweesta Corp. has been
awarded $865,000. It will use most of that as capital to support the
creation and development of Native CDFIs. The sum of $120,000 is in the
form of a technical assistance grant.

Nearly the same amount, $855,000 went to the Affiliated Tribes of Northwest
Indians Revolving Loan Fund in Edmonds, Wash. The group will use $700,000
of the grant as capital for business loans. The remainder is a technical
assistance grant. This group serves 54 tribes in seven states.

The same amount ($855,000) also went to CDFI Four Directions Development
Corp., Orono, Maine, which now serves four tribes in Maine. It will use the
money to bolster loan loss reserves and as new capital, as well $135,000
for technical assistance.

Other familiar names on the awardees lists include the grandfather of all
Native CDFIs, the Hopi Credit Association of Keams Canyon, Ariz. Hopi will
use $400,000 as capital to go into a new line of business - auto lending.
The rest is for technical assistance.

Also in Arizona, Navajo Partnership for Housing received $240,000; $190,000
for loan capital and $50,000 for technical assistance. The CDFI makes loans
in support of homeownership on the giant Navajo Nation.

In South Dakota, Oti Kaga Inc. of Eagle Butte received $100,000 in
technical assistance. The group develops housing for low to moderate-income
members of the Cheyenne River Sioux Tribe. A newer CDFI, Four Bands
Community Fund Inc., also of Eagle Butte, was awarded $440,000 for its
micro-loan fund for business lending; $140,000 of the amount was for
technical assistance.

The technical assistance (NATA) awards announced were each for less than
$100,000 while just one of the NACD awards (to develop new Native CDFIs)
was for more than $100,000.

Earlier this year, Native American Bank became the first Native owned
commercial bank to receive an award under the CDFI Fund's Bank Enterprise
Awards. The bank has offices in Denver and Browning, Mont.

Native groups may want to be paying attention to a second program being
administered by the CDFI Fund. It is called the New Markets Tax Credit, and
in the most recent round of funding, one Native group, Alaska Growth
Capital BIDCO, Anchorage, was allocated $35 million in credits.