As we continue our blog series on local B Corps we wanted to highlight Virginia Community Capital (VCC) – a nonprofit, Community Development Financial Institution (CDFI) and banking entity that is celebrating 10 years of impact in Virginia this year.
Their three core lines of business are Lending, Savings and Advisory Services; being a community bank, however, they go above and beyond these services to provide expertise to a wide range of constituents including localities, developers, community development agencies, nonprofits, and business owners.
In April 2016, VCC converted its for-profit bank – Community Capital Bank of Virginia – to a certified benefit corporation, making it the first B Corp regulated bank in the US.
We spoke with Leah Fremouw, VCC Community Programs Manager, to learn more about VCC’s mission, impact and their decision to become a B Corps.
What makes Virginia Community Capital unique?
Over the past 10 years it’s been VCC’s mission to support housing and community development ventures, increase jobs, and build sustainable communities throughout Virginia – typically in low-to moderate-income communities and underserved market areas where banks won’t typically invest.
Our financial products are much more flexible than traditional banking institutions and we offer technical assistance to the individuals and organizations we work with to ensure that the project has the support it needs to succeed. We utilize housing and tax experts to make recommendations and provide a wide range of support to our clients and investment projects; we’ve offered over 14,000 hours of free advising, so far.
We often partner with other banks, Federal and State programs, Corporations and Foundations to create multiple financial streams and layers of assistance to create sustainability for a project.
Why did VCC decide to become a Benefit Corporation?
We became a Certified B Corps in May 2012 and it was a natural progression for VCC. We were already very community focused through our service offerings, and creating local and lasting impact has always been fundamental to our core mission. We took this a step further in April 2016 when we converted our for-profit bank to a state-recognized benefit Corporation. This allowed us to elevate our social mission to the same significance as our shareholder value.
A few ways that we stand out in terms of meeting and exceeding B Corps standards are that 50% of our Board help develop social and environmental standards for industry, we give preference to local and sustainable suppliers, and our staff are given opportunities to have paid time off for community service.
Let’s talk numbers…what impact have you had in Virginia?
We focus in on three project areas: job creation, quality of life enhancement and vibrant place promotion projects. Over the past 10 years, 488 loans in Virginia have multiplied to a $789 million impact and created or saved nearly 5,000 jobs! For every one dollar we’ve invested in our communities, there’s an additional $1.47 invested, because we often step in and fund what’s often seen as high-risk projects first, and other funders join in soon after.
So far, we’ve made 41 loans to improve healthcare facilities and fresh food in the area, 167 loans to help create and retain jobs and encourage the growth of small business and 280 loans to provide affordable housing and community revitalization projects in the area. We’ve created or rehabbed over 7 million square feet of business or housing spaces, including 4,719 affordable housing units across Virginia.
How is your mission impacting the Greater Richmond Community?
In late June we held an event in Old Town Petersburg, at Trapezium Brewery (a renovation project we recently funded) – one of several celebrations we’ve held over the past few months with our partners and supporters to commemorate our achievements together. The Tri-Cities region has received a total of 220 loans during the past decade.
Recently, we provided capital to Southside Community Development Corporation to purchase and renovate homes that they sell to residents in Central Virginia, allowing SCDC more time and capacity to offer home-owner counseling and support.
In Petersburg’s downtown district, VCC provided the financing needed to renovate and restore the historic Butterworth’s Department Store into a mixed retail, residential, and community space that now hosts the Ward’s Center for Contemporary Art, modern apartments serving low-income tenants and store-fronts.
VCC also partners with Better Housing Coalition to fund operation and planning costs for long-term strategic projects to revitalize communities with affordable housing and community resources, like senior and child care facilities, retail spaces and infrastructure.
We often focus our investments in specific neighborhoods and corridors – like the Jefferson Davis Corridor, where we offered short-term loans to small businesses, like Chocolates by Kelly and a Landscaping Businesses, in order to bring a concentration of resources and support to a hard to serve area. In Newport News we helped fund a full-service grocery store in a food desert community, Jim’s Local Market; VCC is working currently with many partners on opening a second location in the East End of Richmond in the next few years.
How might someone get involved with Impact Investing at Virginia Community Capital?
By depositing or investing in VCC, you can be assured your money is being used to support jobs, enhance quality of life and create energized places in your community. Deposits are FDIC-insured and earn a market rate of return.
Anything else you want to share?
We are continuing to celebrate our ten-year impact and success with our partners over the next few months. On November 11th, we are hosting our Year End Celebration at Altria Theater that will be open to the public.
B Corps and Nonprofits
As the B Corps movement grows in popularity, how will the sector compete for talent? How are nonprofits benefiting from B Corps? What do nonprofits have to learn from social impact businesses?
To help answer some of these questions, over the next few weeks, we will be talking to a few local B Corps to learn more about this unique sector and the impact they are making on the greater Richmond community. Check out our first post, which gives an overview of the B Corps movement and the benchmarks.
More From Our Nonprofit Trends Series: