Community Foundation for Greater Buffalo

"Community Foundation Event May Generate Investment in Buffalo"

Jun 12, 2014 | Posted in News

Buffalo Business First - June 12, 2014:

Buffalo companies looking for investment dollars may find them in an unlikely source this summer.

The Community Foundation for Greater Buffalo is hosting a group of national funders looking for mission-related investment opportunities, with the Buffalo region as their target area.

Representatives of both private charitable foundations and private equity firms will visit the city Thursday and Friday, meeting with economic development leaders to begin a process that will culminate with pitches for funding later this summer or early fall.

It’s an opportunity for Buffalo companies to take advantage of the ongoing swell of development in and around the Buffalo Niagara Medical Campus, said Clotilde Dedecker, president of the Community Foundation.

“We have no shortage of need, and yet we have this well-thought out economic development plan so it’s just the perfect nexus for investment,” she said.

The potential investors include the F.B. Heron Foundation, a New York City private foundation that now dedicates its entire $260 million to supporting investments that generate a financial return as well as positive social or environmental impacts; Community Reinvestment Fund, a Minneapolis nonprofit that works to improve the lives of disadvantaged people and strengthen distressed communities; as well as asset management firms Community Capital Management of Weston, Fla.; and EKO Asset Management Partners of New York City.

The Heron Foundation has already witnessed the positive outcome of its investments here as a funder of the entity that runs the Buffalo Niagara Medical Campus — and is eager to see what else the region has to offer, said Clara Miller, foundation president.

“We think there’s attitude and investment possibilities that make growth a real reality,” she said. “There’s a revenue stream and a consciousness about the relationships that’s instilled to the rest of the community that has really a kind of substance.”
This week’s preliminary meetings follow a visit last summer by 30 executives from some of the country’s largest foundations, all members of the Funders’ Network for Smart Growth and Livable Communities, who came to Buffalo at the invitation of Clotilde Perez-Bode Dedecker, Community Foundation president/CEO.

“The more we looked, the more opportunity and community assets and enthusiasm we saw,” Miller said. “We thought it was worthwhile to say to our friends and ourselves, what are the other opportunities for investment in Buffalo and how do we work closely with people who know the most about Buffalo to bring investments into this community and have it blossom again.”

Mission-related investments is growing among foundations, as is impact investing by private equity firms. The opportunity to bring together economic development representatives with the funders to present what Buffalo has to offer is a unique opportunity, Dedecker said.

“They saw this comprehensive regional economic development plan and were impressed with the level of cross-sector collaboration and how the philanthropic community is at the table with government and nonprofits and business, working together on a shared agenda,” Dedecker said. “This is a very productive place to invest.”

Once the meetings this week are completed, a plan will be outlined to identify companies and other initiatives. More details are expected later this summer.

To view the story in Buffalo Business First, click here.

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