Delivering Critical Resources to New Hampshire Communities

Melissa Latham

The Community Development Finance Authority (CDFA) is a statewide nonprofit public authority focused on maximizing the value and impact of community development, economic development and clean energy initiatives throughout New Hampshire. We deploy a variety of financial and technical resources through competitive grant, loan and equity programs. CDFA helps build the capacity of New Hampshire communities to be strong, resilient, vibrant places by investing in people, institutions and systems. This includes the capacity to both proactively and reactively address social, economic and environmental challenges.

Created 35 years ago, CDFA takes an innovative and collaborative approach to financing capital projects through several funding sources: 

  • The State of New Hampshire’s annual allocation of federal Community Development Block Grant (CDBG) funds which enables eligible municipalities to develop viable, sustainable and equitable communities by expanding economic opportunities, providing housing for low- and moderate-income persons.
     
  • The Clean Energy Fund offers grants, loans and credit enhancements to finance energy-efficiency and renewable energy projects for businesses, nonprofits and municipalities.  
     
  • The New Hampshire State Tax Credit Program provides grants to organizations in the form of tax equity. Businesses support the selected projects by purchasing the tax credits, resulting in the nonprofit receiving a donation and the company receiving a 75 percent credit against its New Hampshire state tax liability.

Our impact is seen throughout New Hampshire in revitalized downtowns, high-quality childcare facilities, business expansion to provide job opportunities, new and revitalized housing units and clean energy initiatives. Since 2016, the organization has invested more than $40.85 million in community development, economic development and clean energy initiatives throughout New Hampshire. The demand for funding from applicants over this same period of time exceeds $74.89 million. 

Supporting New Opportunities for New Hampshire Communities

Access to funds that enable municipalities to identify a community need, explore ways to meet that need, and ultimately, develop and implement a solution is fundamental to the growth and prosperity of our communities. CDFA is dedicated to supporting municipalities in this work and has resources to do so at all stages of the project development ecosystem.

Concept Initiation

CDFA works with partners to advance new ideas, thinking and innovation in community and economic development efforts throughout New Hampshire, our resources focus on initiatives, public events and partnerships that generate actionable ideas and innovative thinking.

We also work closely with partners to understand their needs, align those needs with our technical assistance and financing resources, as well as make connections with other potential sources of support. Much of this work takes place when partners are early on in exploring and developing a concept that solves a specific community need. Engaging CDFA in this stage of project development can help community leaders understand the technical and financial resources available, as well as help strengthen the project’s capacity for success by addressing any potential challenges early on.

Nonprofits in your community can take advantage of CDFA’s L5 Capacity Building Program to strengthen their organizational infrastructure, enhance existing programs or develop new capacity. These resources enable grant recipient to deepen their mission by delivering increased value and meaning to the communities they serve.

Planning and Development

Early access to funds that enable municipalities to explore a concept and determine its viability is a critical step in the success of a project. The Feasibility program provides up to $12,000 in grant funds to help determine whether a proposed project is viable. Municipalities can apply for funding to conduct activities like income surveys, preliminary architectural and engineering design, cost estimates and market analysis.

CDFA also launched its Pre-Development Program in 2018 to help municipalities and nonprofit organizations prepare local development projects for funding and implementation. The program supports activities such as studying the feasibility of renovating a downtown building, gathering public input on a project idea, developing a business plan for a new facility or seeking planning and zoning approval. Loans of up to $100,000 are available and eligible projects must stand a reasonable chance of being financed and initiated within two years.

Additionally, CDFA has resources to support rural small businesses and agricultural producers in your community through the Clean Energy Fund’s Energy Audit Program. Using funds from the USDA Rural Energy for America Program grant program, CDFA will fund 75 percent of a comprehensive, ASHRAE Level II energy audit with eligible participants required to pay for 25 percent.

Finance and Deployment

A significant portion of CDFA’s resources support the implementation of community development, economic development and clean energy initiatives throughout New Hampshire and include:

  • Public Facilities Grants: Finance water and sewer system improvements, transitional and homeless shelters, municipal infrastructure, handicapped access, and neighborhood or community centers that provide public services to low- and moderate-income people.
     
  • Housing Grants: Funds can be used to support affordable housing and housing rehabilitation efforts that benefit low- and moderate-income homeowners and tenants.
     
  • Economic Development Grants and Loans: Create jobs in your community that provide good wages, benefits, and training programs. Funds can also be used for acquisition of land and buildings, construction of commercial buildings, purchase of machinery and equipment, employee training, and public facilities improvements.  
     
  • Clean Energy Fund: Loan and credit enhancement program for municipalities, as well as businesses and nonprofits, to finance energy efficiency improvements and/or renewable energy generation projects. Municipalities can finance energy improvements for municipal buildings, street lighting, and water and sewer treatment facilities.  
     
  • Tax Credit Program: Resource for communities to support community economic development initiatives that show a high degree of community support, build partnerships and leverage other resources. The program is a proven example of how to achieve local priorities by leveraging public-private partnerships.

CDFA assists community leaders in navigating the various funding sources and pursuing those that are the best fit for any given community or project.

Engagement

We continue to support our community partners well-beyond the deployment of our resources to assist them with network building, asset management, compliance, as well as analyzing data and outcomes.

How CDFA Resources Help Strengthen Our Communities

One example of how these resources work together within a municipality is the city of Keene. Over the past decade, CDFA has made significant investments to help this community build local capacity, resiliency and economic success.

Community Development Block Grant and Tax Credit funds were awarded to support critical building and equipment improvements at The Community Kitchen, which provides healthy and nutritious hot meals, take-home food boxes, as well as advocacy to low- and moderate-income individuals and families in the Monadnock Region. The Monadnock Food Coop also leveraged Community Development Block Grant resources to first build its original space, and most recently, to expand the business and create up to 25 new, quality jobs.

New Hampshire business donors have  invested funds through the Tax Credit Program to support the construction of a new 16,887 square foot building in downtown Keene for the local arts organization, MOCO Arts, enabling them to serve more area youth, create new full-time jobs, redevelop a vacant and blemished city block, and increase its tuition assistance for low-income students.

CDFA’s technical assistance resources help support the local business incubator, the Hannah Grimes Center, to provide services that help small, local businesses grow. Additional resources are provided to Monadnock Economic Development Corporation, our local economic development partner in the region, to support their work with the community and local businesses.

These investments support critical safety-net services, access to healthy local food, a thriving creative economy, new job opportunities and support for local businesses. CDFA’s investment ecosystem results in strong, vibrant communities. We make investments that create and strengthen a community’s sense of place and do so through an integrated, holistic approach to community and economic development.

Strengthening New Hampshire Communities

CDFA has awarded more than $13 million of Community Development Block Grant funds in communities throughout New Hampshire in 2017 and 2018. These critical resources support housing, public facility and economic development projects in communities throughout the state. Funding for the Community Development Block Grant program is provided to New Hampshire through the U.S. Department of Housing and Urban Development. The following are a few examples of projects awarded funds in 2017 and 2018.

Housing and Public Facilities

  • The City of Laconia was awarded $350,000 on behalf of Navigating Recovery of the Lakes Region to purchase a property in the downtown Laconia area to relocate and expand the services they provide. The organization is a peer-to-peer recovery center providing services since November 2016 to residents from Laconia and the Greater Lakes Region suffering from Substance Use Disorder. The Lakes Region is an area with a significant need for a Recovery Community Organization.  
     
  • The Town of Newport was awarded $500,000 on behalf of the Newport Senior Center to expand and renovate the existing facility. The Senior Center provides services to 600 seniors annually. The proposed renovations will address the critical need for space for both immediate and future needs. 
     
  • The City of Concord was awarded $500,000 on behalf of the Concord YMCA to undertake extensive interior and exterior renovations critical to its operation, including replacing the furnace, nonworking elevator and other improvements to their childcare facility. The Concord YMCA provides childcare services in its Firehouse building to 135 children. There are very limited affordable, high-quality choices in the area. 
     
  • Sullivan County was awarded $500,000 on behalf of New England Family Housing to rehabilitate the Goddard Block in Claremont. The multi-use building rehabilitation will contribute to downtown redevelopment efforts by providing commercial space and 36 units of rental housing.

Economic Development

  • The City of Keene was awarded $200,000 on behalf of the Monadnock Economic Development Corporation to support the purchase of equipment by local business 603 OPTX, Inc. The project will result in the creation of 10 new full-time jobs.
  • The Town of Salem was awarded $500,000 on behalf of the Regional Economic Development Center of Southern New Hampshire (REDC) in order to provide a loan to Salem Ford. The business will use the funds to build a new facility, enabling the creation of 25 jobs.

Feasibility

  • The Town of Derry was awarded $12,000 to hire a consultant to determine preliminary design and property development costs for a mixed-use facility that would house a job training center, which is also within a federally designated Opportunity Zone. The study will help determine the maximum development capacity of one of four parcels of town owned land to construct the facility. The facility would expand job training opportunities to help meet the demands of both employers and the available under-skilled labor market while contributing to downtown development.  
     
  • The Town of Ashland was awarded $12,000 to determine the structural integrity of an abandoned building, estimate hazardous materials clean-up costs and potential clean-up funding, and estimate costs to rehabilitate the building. 

Melissa Latham is Communications Manager with the Community Development Finance Authority.  Melissa can be reach by phone at 603.717.9109 or via email at mlatham@nhcdfa.org.