Community Foundation for Greater Buffalo

Community Foundation Begins Study of Potential for Impact Investing [Buffalo Business First]

Feb 10, 2015 | Posted in News

Buffalo Business First - February 10, 2015:

Western New York foundations and businesses have long invested their capital into growing the region.

But is there enough opportunity in the region to generate interest and investments from organizations outside of the region?

The Community Foundation for Greater Buffalo has hired Next Street, a New York City consulting firm, to help craft a feasibility study to help answer that question. The firm specializes on making connections between the public and private sectors to the nonprofit community.

Next Street consultants will conduct a series of interviews with Western New York leaders to determine the region's economic potential for impact investing through deals that yield both a financial and social return, said Clotilde Perez-Bode Dedecker, president and CEO at the Community Foundation.

The study will help determine the region's economic potential for an impact investing strategy, including the potential for deal flow and market demand as well as the interest of local and national investors.

"Nationally we have a very robust community of impact investors interested in both financial returns of below or at market rate, and in a social/environmental benefit," she said. "The study will be to understand the potential and feasibility for building or creating such an entity in our region."

The study is expected to take about six months. Funding comes from the Community Foundation and the F.B. Heron Foundation, a New York City private foundation dedicated to supporting investments that generate a financial return as well as positive social or environmental impacts.

"Heron has been continuing to partner with us," she said. "They're excited about the economic renaissance in Buffalo, as are other national foundations who are looking at being co-investors in this venture."

Individual foundations based in Western New York have done some impact or mission investing of their own, including the John R. Oishei Foundation, the Community Foundation and the Health Foundation for Western and Central New York. This study, however, will look at the potential of bringing more funds to the region from other parts of the country.

The feasibility study follows an event last spring hosted by Dedecker that saw nine national funders travel to Buffalo to hear more about what the region has to offer.

"Many of the initiatives the Community Foundation is engaged in benefit from support from national funders," said Dedecker, pointing to $45 million in grants awarded over the past half dozen years from national funders. "Nationally, there's a very robust community of impact investors, including foundations, companies and individual investors. This opens up an avenue to further attract more here."

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

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