Anthony Wilder Puzzuoli
Opportunity Finance Network’s Northwest Regional Meeting took place on Tuesday, July 23, in beautiful Missoula, Montana. CDFIs engaged in a productive day of learning and networking at the Residence Inn in downtown Missoula.
With approximately 40 attendees representing a dozen different organizations, the meeting kicked off with an update about current events at OFN from Executive Vice President of Membership Seth Julyan, as well as an overview of OFN’s policy advocacy priorities from Chief External Affairs Officer Jennifer Vasiloff.
Following introductions from CDFIs in attendance, participants broke into smaller groups to discuss various topics brought up during the introductions, including partnerships with banks, affordable housing, branding, and rural technical assistance practices.
After lunch, OFN President and CEO Lisa Mensah spoke about the importance of the CDFI industry and the work of CDFIs in the Northwest and nationwide. Lisa’s remarks were followed by a discussion about CDFI collaboration featuring OFN’s Seth Julyan, Ted Piccolo from the Northwest Native Development Fund, and Dave Glaser from MoFi. OFN’s Jennifer Vasiloff then returned to the podium to wrap up the afternoon with a discussion on Opportunity Zones.
With the day’s onsite learning complete, it was time to head offsite to see local CDFI work in action! OFN member MoFi arranged for a school bus to transport the group to visit two of their projects, starting with the Missoula Food Bank and Community Center. The new building not only provides food for those in need, but also offers meeting rooms, a demonstration kitchen, and a children’s area.
Next, the group visited Kettlehouse Brewery, makers of Montana’s favorite beer—Cold Smoke—a scotch ale. Lastly, the MoFi crew rolled out the red carpet with a fantastic reception at their downtown offices featuring food, drinks, and party favors from local businesses funded by MoFi. Special thanks to the MoFi team for their generous hospitality!
The following day, several OFN team members capped off the Northwest trip with a visit to Native American Community Development Corporation (NACDC) Financial Services in Browning, Montana.
OFN thanks Wells Fargo for sponsoring our 2019 Regional Meetings.