“President Clinton dreamed big …but I’m not sure even President Clinton could have predicted this day,” said OFN President and CEO Lisa Mensah as she introduced the 42nd President of the United States William Jefferson Clinton to deliver the keynote address on October 21 at the OFN Conference in Washington, DC, Lending Where it Counts.
In addition to being heard by 1,500 conference participants, President Clinton’s luncheon plenary speech was livestreamed. Or watch the speech here:
“You’ve got to do the right thing and believe it will come out over the long run,” said President Clinton. “I want to thank every single person in this room who had anything to do with making the CDFI program what it has become in so many American communities.”
President Clinton was instrumental in the creation of the CDFI Fund, a federal agency supporting the CDFI industry that ensures affordable lending to build economic opportunity in underserved rural, urban, and Native communities. When first proposed 25 years ago, few believed that a model built on lending in low-income communities, leveraging federal dollars and prioritizing communities as stakeholders, would work. Early pioneers and supporters proved the resiliency of the CDFI model, demonstrating the consistently strong returns and low default rates that continue today. President Clinton played an important role in the further evolution of community development investment and financing by signing the Riegle Community Development and Improvement Act in 1994 to create the Fund and honor a campaign promise.
A quarter-century later, CDFIs manage assets of $185 billion to help create jobs, affordable homes, community facilities, and small businesses in rural, urban, and Native communities across the country. The building blocks of America’s future, CDFIs work with local communities to create economic growth and opportunity in unlikely places often overlooked by investors and traditional lenders. With responsible and affordable lending, skills and management training, and local know-how, CDFIs operate by, with, and for communities to open doors to further growth.
See more 2019 OFN Conference highlights — speaker videos, session materials, photos, and blog recaps — at conference.ofn.org!