About 20 years ago, the Community Development Financial Institutions Fund (CDFI) announced that, for the first time, $2.5 billion worth of new markets tax credit (NMTC) allocations would go to various community development entities (CDE) across the country. Then under our previous name – Northside Community Development Fund – we were fortunate to be one of 66 CDEs to receive an allocation award.

While six CDEs received over $100 million, yours truly received the smallest award of $500,000. We’re proud to say we used every dollar of those funds to make loans to small businesses.

We received a second award in 2006 for $2 million that was used to finance small businesses and small commercial real estate projects in Allegheny County – without huge fees. And our third and final allocation was for $4 million in 2009. We used that money to help close the gap on the $40 million conversion of the old Connolly Trade School in the Hill District into the beautiful Energy Innovation Center (EIC) we know today.

The EIC project provided a community-oriented anchor in the Hill District and serves as the hub for energy innovation in our region. It has also provided employment to low-income residents of both the Hill and the Northside.

In the 20 years since the inaugural NMTC allocation, several other entities have taken interest in the program, and we began to realize it was no longer in alignment with our mission of focusing on small businesses, minority-owned businesses and community-based projects. However, we’ve never lost sight of our mission to help these underrepresented groups – not in 2003, not in 2013, and certainly not now.

We’ll always be in the corner of small businesses and neighborhoods throughout Allegheny County.