Tester: Montana’s Community Development Programs are Critical for Small Businesses, Must be Included in Next Coronavirus Relief Bill

Additional funds will increase local investment, support small businesses in underserved communities

As part of his effort to make sure no Montana community is left behind during the coronavirus crisis, U.S. Senator Jon Tester today is urging Senate leadership to include critical community development programs in the next coronavirus relief bill.

In a letter to Senate leadership, Tester and a bipartisan group of his colleagues wrote that Community Development Financial Institutions (CDFIs) are critical to keeping small businesses afloat during this crisis and to helping them recover once it’s over. The Senators requested $1 billion be added to the CDFI Fund to further invest in underserved communities and to help small businesses access pandemic response resources.

“In normal times, CDFIs fill a critical need by taking appropriated funds and magnifying their impact in neglected rural, urban, and Tribal communities that are not sufficiently served by our nation’s financial institutions,” the Senators wrote. “Indeed, CDFIs not only have a proven track record of making the most of federal resources, but they also have an existing infrastructure in place to deploy much needed financing quickly to small businesses throughout the country. While it is important to continue the newly established Paycheck Protection Program, we should also take greater advantage of these pre-existing CDFI channels so that more of our small businesses receive the necessary resources to save jobs and get their companies through to the other side of the pandemic.”

CDFIs provide affordable loans to financially underserved and disadvantaged communities. In fiscal year 2019, CDFIs took $250 million in appropriated funds and magnified their impact by making loans or investments totaling nearly $21.5 billion, including over 23,000 loans to small businesses.

Montana CDFIs praised Tester’s work:

“Montana’s CDFIs are hard at work keeping Montana’s small businesses afloat—but with additional tools these institutions could have an even wider reach, and we are grateful to have a champion in Senator Tester in the U.S. Senate,” said Brett Doney, President & CEO of the Great Falls Montana Development Authority.

“The COVID-19 crisis has laid bare the realities of rural, underserved and underbanked business owners – those whose need for flexible, responsible capital is more than ever before,” said Dave Glaser, President of MoFi. “An additional $1B in support for the CDFI Fund will ensure that more struggling business owners can receive the help they need to keep their doors open and their workers employed. Senator Tester has long been a fierce advocate for Montana businesses, and we’re grateful to see his leadership of an initiative that will benefit not only Montanans, but business owners across the country.”

“As a local economic development organization we understand the critical role that small businesses play in our communities,” said Joe Willauer, Executive Director of the Butte Local Development Corporation. “The CDFI program provides these businesses the financial tools they need to create new jobs, expand their services and support vibrant main streets that are the core of our communities. Thank you Senator Tester for your support on this incredibly important program.”

Tester has long supported CDFIs. He recently called on the Trump Administration to approve CDFIs as Small Business Administration lenders, making them eligible to disburse funds through the Protection Paycheck Program, and as a member of the Senate Appropriations Committee has secured millions for CDFIs in Montana.

Read Tester’s full letter to Senate Leadership HERE.

Visit tester.senate.gov/coronavirusresources for a list of resources for Montanans during the COVID-19 outbreak