The 2007 Awardees

The 2007 awardees of the Wachovia NEXT Awards for Opportunity Finance were: Latino Community Credit Union, $5.5 Million Award; ACCION Texas, $2.75 Million Award; ASI Federal Credit Union, $25,000 Innovation Award; First Nations Oweesta Corporation, $25,000 Impact Award; Ohio Capital Finance Corporation, $25,000 Financing Award; and Primary Care Development Corporation, $25,000 Advocacy Award.

“Our mentality is that we don’t know barriers, and we don’t know limits. If the system is not prepared to welcome you, you need to change the system,’ said Luis Pastor, CEO of Latino Community Credit Union, and recipient of the 2007 $5.5 Million award.

Latino Community Credit Union (LCCU), of Durham, N.C., is using its 2007 $5.5 million prize to support its rapid expansion. Founded in 2002 in response to violence against Latino residents in North Carolina, LCCU now has more than 42,000 members. It was the first multicultural financial institution in North Carolina to provide all of its services in Spanish and English, without discriminating in pricing. LCCU now also serves African and European populations. LCCU has branches in Durham, Charlotte, Raleigh, Greensboro and Fayetteville and plans to expand to three new markets with the help of the investment provided by this Wachovia NEXT Award. LCCU partners with the State Employees Federal Credit Union in an innovative partnership that has made its meteoric growth possible.

“When I first read the application and criteria – I said, that’s us! – there was no doubt in my mind!” said Janie Barrera, CEO of ACCION TEXAS, and recipient of the 2007 $2.75 Million award.

ACCION Texas, a statewide organization based out of San Antonio, Texas, is using its 2007 $2.75 million prize to extend its microlending reach and to grow its business partnerships outside of Texas. ACCION Texas uses an automated underwriting system and business model to distinguish itself in a challenging financial segment, providing credit to small businesses that do not have access to loans from commercial sources. The organization makes business loans from $500 to $50,000 for working capital, equipment purchase, inventory and other business needs. ACCION Texas has distributed over $58 million in more than 8,100 loans to clients in Texas, helping micro-entrepreneurs strengthen their businesses, stabilize their incomes, create additional employment and contribute to the economic revitalization of their communities. ACCION Texas has 12 offices in ten cities and serves clients in over 80 counties throughout Texas.

ASI Federal Credit Union, of Harahan, La., received the 2007 Innovation Award. ASI is a CDFI that epitomizes a spirit of innovation. Its internal operating environment encourages creativity, learning, and risk-taking. ASI staff continually assess the financial marketplace, ask what products are missing, and seek to create products to fill the gaps. ASI has created several innovative products and programs to support the post-Katrina New Orleans region. Its innovative Stretch Plan and Freedom Loan anti-predatory lending products have been replicated by credit unions and nonprofits nationwide. ASI strives to make lasting contributions in the nationwide fight against predatory lending through product innovation. ASI staff also created the Payday Lender ReBuilder Loan in response to the growing number of members they saw who became trapped by dependency on multiple payday loans.

First Nations Oweesta Corporation, of Rapid City, S.D., received the 2007 Impact Award. Oweesta was chosen for the extraordinary impact it has made on the Native CDFI Industry and the communities these Native CDFIs serve. Since 2003, Oweesta has worked with roughly 250 tribal entities/Native communities in the area of CDFI development, and hundreds more focusing on asset building program development. Through Oweesta’s work in promoting the creation of Native CDFIs and publicizing the work they do, the interest in and awareness of Native economic development grows every day. The nation’s premier intermediary for Native community development financial institutions, Oweesta (from the Mohawk word for money) helps build strong Native institutions and programs through professional services designed to build local capacity, provide powerful tools for Native community development, and promote economic sovereignty.

Ohio Capital Finance Corporation (OCFC), Columbus, Ohio received the 2007 Financing Award.OCFC, the lending arm of Ohio Capital Corporation for Housing, specializes in predevelopment, acquisition, and bridge financing for affordable housing, offering unique products in Ohio and Kentucky. Its loans enable developers to complete a wide range of tasks critical to a project’s success, including conducting engineering and environmental studies, hiring architects and attorneys, and packaging projects for construction and permanent financing. Since its inception, OCFC has originated more than $20 million in 110 loans, producing over 5,100 new or rehabilitated housing units. When looking for ways to further capitalize its loan fund OCFC created an innovative fund structure to accommodate financial institutions preferring a participation or debt structure. This innovative structure enabled OCFC to raise a additional capital for lending as well as expand its product line to include single family homeownership loans.

Primary Care Development Corporation, New York, N.Y. received the 2007 Advocacy Award. PCDC is a leader in the support of primary care in the state of New York and has launched a statewide Primary Care Coalition, produced multiple reports on the subject, and testified at state and city hearings. PCDC’s tireless research, policy and advocacy efforts have influenced policymakers at the city and state level, leading to millions of dollars of new investment in primary care in New York City and New York State. PCDC focuses on expanding and strengthening the role and capacity of primary care facilities in the health-care delivery system, providing an array of financial products in partnership with public and private financing sources. The organization also offers comprehensive real estate development and technical support programs that enable health-care organizations to implement state-of-the-art facilities, adopt best practices for delivering quality services, and strengthen health facilities’ clinical and internal operations.