SALLI MARTYNIAK-05072013105903 (copy)

Salli Martyniak, director of Forward Community Investments, saw her organization make a record $15 million in new loans last year statewide.

Madison's Forward Community Investments is reporting it made over $15 million in loans in 2014, a record year of lending for the 20-year old nonprofit.

FCI also closed an additional $10 million in federal New Markets Tax Credits transactions in 2014.

All told, FCI has now made more than $53 million in loans statewide for community projects since it was founded in the basement of First Baptist Church at 518 N. Franklin St. in 1994.

"The funds we have available to lend are now fully deployed," said FCI president Salli Martyniak in a statement.

At the same time, Martyniak notes that a full loan portfolio also means that FCI is in need of more capital to lend.

"The need for community financing is growing; we hope more investors will see us as a conduit for putting their money to work in support of what they value — equity, opportunity, and a healthy, sustainable Wisconsin,” she says.

FCI operates by soliciting money from socially conscious investors, who receive up to a 2 percent return. It then loans that money out at below market rates for projects like affordable housing, disabled services or historic preservation, often providing “gap” financing that can’t be obtained through a conventional lender.

Recent efforts include:

• Money to help build and renovate the healthy foods kitchen and four classrooms operated by Jo's Learning Academy on North Avenue in Milwaukee

• A loan to Wisconsin Partnership for Housing Development to purchase houses in Madison and Menomonie as peer-supported respite centers for individuals with mental illness

• $5 million in New Markets Tax Credits for St. Ann Center for Intergenerational Care's new $19 million facility in Milwaukee for adult daycare services

As part its 20th anniversary, FCI last year revised its vision and mission statements to put a greater emphasis on supporting organizations that are working to achieve social, racial and economic equity.

In June, FCI also was awarded an allocation of $20 million in New Markets Tax Credits, which can prove a powerful tool for financing community development projects in low-income neighborhoods. Under the NMTC program, organizations like FCI trade those federal credits for investments from entities with tax liabilities and then loan the money back out for qualified projects.

Known originally as the Dane Fund, FCI has expanded its reach well beyond Dane County with work in both rural and urban parts of the state. 

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