Background image of About 20 or so piles of lumber, some stacked at least a couple stories high, are in an outdoor dirt lot, with a glimpse of snowy mountains and trees in the background.

Catalytic Capital

Since its establishment, Ecotrust CDE has issued $277 million in New Markets Tax Credits toward 31 public-private investments, with a focus on generating economic growth, community revitalization, and ecological restoration in low-income communities.

As a nonprofit driven by building business as a force for good, we know that capital is a component of building not just wealth, but also the social, environmental, and economic well-being that we and our partners pursue.

One source for capital is Ecotrust CDE. In 2005, we formed Ecotrust CDE to support the innovation we were seeing in the region. Although its creation is an unusual step for a nonprofit organization, we saw the need for a full range of capital—public, private, and philanthropic—to accomplish large impact projects.

“We also want to enable growth for businesses that generate economic value, such as jobs; community revitalization; and ecological restoration.”

A Community Development Entity (CDE) is an entity designated by the Community Development Financial Institutions Fund to assist with public-private investments in low-income communities. We, through Ecotrust CDE, pushed this definition further: we enable growth for businesses that generate economic value, such as jobs; community revitalization; and ecological restoration.

Since its establishment, Ecotrust CDE, in partnership with private businesses and Tribal governments, has issued $277 million in New Markets Tax Credits (NMTC) to support 31 projects. Ecotrust CDE prioritizes working with Black, Indigenous, and people of color-controlled and -owned entities, including tribal organizations. We recognize that these partnerships are important to shift capital and power. Additionally, Ecotrust CDE’s work includes rural areas, where economic and community needs are great, as are the possibilities for environmental restoration and progression of working lands. And, Ecotrust CDE supports our other mission-aligned work. Fees earned from Ecotrust CDE not only go toward sustaining itself, but they also fund our non-profit programs and other mission-related investments.

So what does that look like in practice? Here are a few of our current projects that exemplify the triple-bottom-line benefits that can be achieved through NMTC investments.

American Samoa Power Authority

In 2018, the American Samoa Power Authority (ASPA) sought NMTC financing to provide capital for the replacement of asbestos cement and high-density polyethylene pipes, installation of well connections, and other drinking water system improvements in Tutuila, American Samoa.

An image of a photo next to a graphic of white text over a blue background. The photo shows a pipe leaking water, with two workers standing near it (only the lower halves of their bodies are shown). The text reads: American Samoa Power Authority / 2020 community impacts: / 50 construction jobs created, 20 permanent full-time equivalent jobs created, 60% reduction in reported water loss, 32 miles of asbestos cement piping projected to be replaced

Cay-uma-wa (Head Start)

The Confederated Tribes of the Umatilla Indian Reservation (CTUIR) operates preschool and K-12 education programs for Native American children and youth. In 2018, through NMTC financing, the CTUIR built a new facility in Pendleton, Ore. to house all of their education programs, including Nixyaawii Community School, a charter high school of the Pendleton School District. 

A photo placed next to a graphic of white text on a blue background. The photo shows the exterior of a modern high school building that has gray and beige paint. The white text reads: Cay-uma-wa (Head Start) / 2020 community impacts: / 70 construction jobs created / 44 full-time equivalent and 14 part-time equivalent jobs created / At least 75% of enrolled students are Native American

Fort Rock Restoration

Located in central Oregon, Fort Rock Forest has been intensively managed in the last two decades, including by two entities in bankruptcy, leaving a legacy of overharvesting and underinvestment. EFMI purchased the property and has started a restoration process to enhance forest health, create jobs, improve habitat for mule deer and other species, develop the property for recreational use, and enhance its access, use, and future acquisition by the Klamath Tribes.

A photo placed next to a graphic of white text over a blue background. The photo shows a pine forest photographed from a high vantage point. The white text on the graphic reads: Fort Rock Restoration: / 2020 community impacts: / 2.4 full-time equivalent jobs created / 37,468 tons of carbon dioxide sequestered

Fry Foods

Fry Foods was a food-processing facility in Ontario, Ore., where the unemployment rate is higher than the state average and one in four people live below the federal poverty line. Fry Foods was a key customer for mid-size agriculture in the region and one of the largest local employers. The facility closure in 2012 caused significant impact to the region, with the loss of 240 jobs.

In 2015, Ecotrust CDE worked alongside partners to reopen Fry Foods. Reopening the facility enabled the creation of 134 construction jobs and resulted in important upgrades. Today, the facility has added 108 full-time permanent jobs and growing. Employees receive health benefits, paid time off, and access to job training programs, classes in English as a second language and Microsoft Suite, as well as training in welding work. Reinstating Fry Foods, whose products go out across the country, catalyzes an economic boost to the local area.

A photo next to a graphic of white text on a blue background. The photo shows machinery next to an industrial conveyor belt, which is covered in battered onion rings. The white text reads: Fry Foods / 2020 community impacts: / 100 construction jobs created / 329 jobs created and retained / Qualified active low-income ocmmunity business invested $36,000 in educational employee programs such as English for speakers of other languages courses and US citizenship preparation

We have seen over and over the economic, social, and environmental revitalization that can occur when communities and businesses can access the capital and advisory support they need to put ideas into action. Ecotrust CDE’s work continues to identify partners and projects with this potential and move capital into their hands. We are proud to be part of the work that our partners have achieved and look forward to the future possibilities that NMTC can enable. 

Top photo: Lumber stacked high at Ochoco Lumber Company, a project which has since concluded its seven-year partnership with Ecotrust CDE. Photo courtesy of EFM.