IFF seeks to expand presence in Milwaukee

Chicago-based IFF, a community development financial institution that serves the nonprofit community, opened a Milwaukee-location just over a year ago. According to Lanie Wasserman, director of the Wisconsin location, the office is looking to expand its business outreach and is in search of nonprofit organizations that need IFF’s assistance with financing.
“Banks have really tightened up their lending practices throughout the recession,” Wasserman said. “Our services are needed more than ever. We work with nonprofit organizations, and deal with flexible below-market financing deals that a bank wouldn’t normally agree to.”
Standard facility loans have fifteen year terms and range from $10,000 to $1.5 million, but the organization can also serve as a secondary mortgage or supplement she said.
The organization services nonprofit organizations and projects that serve the special needs and low-income populations in a community, Wasserman said. IFF has offices that serve Illinois, Indiana, Iowa, Missouri, and Wisconsin.
“We can provide or supplement existing dollars the organization needs to construct, renovate or purchase a building,” she said. “We can also get them money to help purchase equipment, technology or vehicles.”
Since its formation in the Milwaukee area a year ago, IFF has conducted 35 loans totaling nearly $19 million and has helped local organizations like La Causa, St. Catherine Residence, Veterans Manor LLC, Hope Lutheran School and others complete their projects and purchase their equipment.
“We have a strong focus on projects that serve the betterment of the community,” she said. “We hope that once projects like the Hope Lutheran School are completed they serve as a catalytic start to more development in those low-income areas.”
Banks are important partners for IFF, Wasserman said. Banks are required by the Community Reinvestment Act of 1977. According to Wasserman the act requires banks and financial institutions to meet the needs of all segments of borrowers, including low income, by giving money to organizations like IFF, Wasserman said.
“It’s important to recognize that we don’t compete directly with banks,” she said, “in fact, a large portion of our funding comes from banks and the (Community Reinvestment Act).”
IFF just received a $9.5 million investment from J.P. Morgan Chase & Co. specifically to be used in Illinois, Indiana, and Wisconsin.
In addition to financing, IFF’s Wisconsin office also provides real estate consultation to high quality choice and charter schools seeking opportunities to grow and expand their facilities.  Right now, IFF Milwaukee is looking for qualified nonprofit organizations that need financial assistance in supplementing a building project or for purchasing equipment.
“The biggest thing we look at is, what the money going to be used for,” Wasserman said. “We’re excited about expanding even farther in the metro region, and helping local nonprofits fulfill their mission by assisting them with their finance needs however we can.”

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