As I write to you this month, I sit in my office overlooking the herring run. It’s a sunny day and it’s hard not to wish the warmer weather that has been teasing us this winter to become a permanent fixture as spring and summer knock on our door! As I start to daydream, I am thinking about those long hot days of summer sipping on a cool refreshing beverage on Cape Cod. My mind journeys further into a European Holiday in the fall. What a great life! BAM
The phone rings and I snap back into reality. We are sitting on a truckload of transactions that need to be completed in our shop over the next five days. The office is crazy and people are yelling at me to move quicker and stop staring out the window. “Sean, can you look at this?” “Sean, call on Line 2”, “Sean, it’s the contractor for Bell, can you talk?”
WASHINGTON – U.S. Department of Housing and Urban Development (HUD) Secretary Julián Castro, Detroit Mayor Mike Duggan, U.S. Senators Debbie Stabenow and Gary C. Peters, and Congressman John Conyers, Jr., announced the allocation of $8.9 million from the Community Development Block Grant Declared Disaster Recovery Fund (DDR) to the City of Detroit. The funds will help Detroit become better prepared for future floods and other natural disasters, and assist with planning and implementation costs associated with resilient projects in the Brightmoor, Mt. Elliot and McDougall-Hunt neighborhoods, stemming from August 2014 flooding damage.
The level of commercial/multifamily mortgage debt outstanding increased by $40.4 billion in the first quarter of 2015, as all four major investor groups increased their holdings, according to a release from the Mortgage Bankers Association. The new 1st quarter numbers represent a 1.5 percent increase over the fourth quarter of 2014.
WASHINGTON: In a long awaited announcement several months late, the U.S. Treasury Department’s Community Development Financial Institutions Fund (CDFI Fund) announced more than $3.5 billion in New Markets Tax Credit awards aimed at stimulating investment and economic growth in low-income urban neighborhoods and rural communities nationwide. A total of 76 organizations (Allocatees) across the country will receive tax credit allocation authority under the 2014 round of the New Markets Tax Credit Program.
WASHINGTON - The US Department of Agriculture announced the launch of two new private funds, known as Rural Business Investment Companies (RBICs), which make equity investments in rural businesses, helping them grow and create jobs. This announcement is part of USDA's ongoing efforts to help attract private sector capital to investment opportunities in rural America to help drive more economic growth in rural communities.
WASHINGTON – The head of the U.S. Small Business Administration (SBA) announced that for the second year, the SBA is launching an Accelerator Growth Fund competition for accelerators and other entrepreneurial ecosystem models to compete for monetary prizes of $50,000 each, totaling $4 million. The application period is from April 10-June 1 and information about the application process can be found at: www.sba.gov.
“We’re launching a second Accelerator Growth Fund competition to spur even greater opportunities for America’s small businesses,” said SBA Administrator Maria Contreras-Sweet. “Last year’s event was so successful, we’re looking forward to discovering and empowering the next trailblazers. Accelerators provide valuable resources to potential startups: a physical infrastructure to work in their infancy, mentoring, business-plan assistance, networking, opportunities to obtain venture capital, and introductions to potential customers, partners and suppliers—all critical elements to ensuring that small businesses flourish and succeed.”
Similar to last year’s competition, several panels containing expert judges from the private and public sector with collective experience in early stage investing, entrepreneurship, academia, start-ups and economic development will select the winners. The competition includes accelerators, incubators, co-working startup communities, shared tinker-spaces or other models. The panel will give particular attention to, applicants that fill geographic gaps in the accelerator and entrepreneurial ecosystem space.
Through this competition, the SBA is looking to support the development of accelerators and their support of startups in parts of the country where there are fewer conventional sources of access to capital (i.e., venture capital and other investors).
In addition, the SBA is also seeking accelerators headed by women and those that support them or other underrepresented groups. Thirty-two percent of last year’s accelerator winners were run by women and 14 percent were classified as underrepresented groups.
Manufacturing accelerator models will be given special consideration during this year’s competition, because they are critical to job growth and strengthening the nation’s economy.
Please click here for the Accelerator Growth Fact Sheet and specifics on how to apply and the timeline for 2015’s competition.
Washington, DC- Addressing the needs of women and the role they play in America’s economy, the U.S. Small Business Administration has launched a nationwide competition for entrepreneurs who are developing products and services that will enhance the lives of women and their families.
“The landscape of the U.S. economy has evolved drastically during the last 50 years, and women played a significant role in that change,” said SBA Administrator Maria Contreras-Sweet. “We are harnessing the power of America’s entrepreneurs to develop products, services and technologies that support women as they deal with the challenges of work and home. This innovation challenge will both help strengthen the economy and empower women to succeed.”
InnovateHER: 2015 Innovating for Women Business Challenge kicked off in early March with local competitions hosted by universities, accelerators, clusters, scale-up communities, SBA’s resource partners, and other local organizations. The SBA is seeking entrepreneurs who have created a product or service that will have a measurable impact on women and their families, fills a need in the marketplace, and has the potential for commercialization.
Those entrepreneurs selected by local judges will make it to the semi-final round. An executive committee comprised of SBA officials will review the semi-final nomination packages and select no more than 10 finalists. The finalists will compete for a total of $30,000 in prize money provided by Microsoft.
The 10 finalists will travel to the District of Columbia on May 8th where they’ll pitch their products and ideas to a panel of expert judges during SBA’s National Small Business Week.
For details on contest rules and a list of local competitions, visitwww.sba.gov/innovateHER.
WASHINGTON, Feb. 10, 2015 – Agriculture Secretary Tom Vilsack announced that rural agricultural producers and small business owners can now apply for resources to purchase and install renewable energy systems or make energy efficiency improvements. These efforts help farmers, ranchers and other small business owners save money on their energy bills, reduce America's dependence on foreign oil, support America's clean energy economy, and cut carbon pollution. These resources are made possible by the 2014 Farm Bill.
"Developing renewable energy presents an enormous economic opportunity for rural America," Vilsack said. "The funding we are making available will help farmers, ranchers, business owners, tribal organizations and other entities incorporate renewable energy and energy efficiency technology into their operations. Doing so can help a business reduce energy use and costs while improving its bottom line. While saving producers money and creating jobs, these investments reduce dependence on foreign oil and cut carbon pollution as well."
USDA is making more than $280 million available to eligible applicants through the Rural Energy for America Program (REAP). Application deadlines vary by project type and the type of assistance requested.
USDA is offering grants for up to 25 percent of total project costs and loan guarantees for up to 75 percent of total project costs for renewable energy systems and energy efficiency improvements. The REAP application window has been expanded. USDA will now accept and review loan and grant applications year-round.
Eligible renewable energy projects must incorporate commercially available technology. This includes renewable energy from wind, solar, ocean, small hydropower, hydrogen, geothermal and renewable biomass (including anaerobic digesters). The maximum grant amount is $500,000, and the maximum loan amount is $25 million per applicant.
Energy efficiency improvement projects eligible for REAP funding include lighting, heating, cooling, ventilation, fans, automated controls and insulation upgrades that reduce energy consumption. The maximum grant amount is $250,000, and the maximum loan amount is $25 million per applicant.
USDA is offering a second type of grant to support organizations that help farmers, ranchers and small businesses conduct energy audits and operate renewable energy projects. Eligible applicants include: units of state, tribal or local governments; colleges, universities and other institutions of higher learning; rural electric cooperatives and public power entities, and conservation and development districts. The maximum grant is $100,000.
The REAP program was created in the 2002 Farm Bill. Because of the success of the program, Congress reauthorized it in the 2014 Farm Bill with guaranteed funding of no less than $50 million in annual funding for the duration of the 5 year bill. The 2014 Farm Bill builds on historic economic gains in rural America over the past six years while achieving meaningful reform and billions of dollars in savings for taxpayers.
Since 2009, USDA has awarded $545 million for more than 8,800 REAP projects nationwide. This includes $361 million in REAP grants and loans for more than 2,900 renewable energy systems. When fully operational, these systems are expected to generate more than 6 billion kilowatt hours annually – enough to power more than 5.5 million homes for a year.
In 2013, owners of the Ideal Dairy restaurant in Richfield, Utah, used REAP funding to install 80 solar modules and two 10-kilowatt inverters, which convert energy from solar panels to electricity. The owners have saved, on average, $400 per month. These savings have helped them preserve their restaurant and livelihood.
President Obama's plan for rural America has brought about historic investment and resulted in stronger rural communities. Under the President's leadership, these investments in housing, community facilities, businesses and infrastructure have empowered rural America to continue leading the way – strengthening America's economy, small towns and rural communities. USDA's investments in rural communities support the rural way of life that stands as the backbone of our American values.
HUD-VASH vouchers in Indian Country will build on national effort to end Veteran homelessness
WASHINGTON – Today the U.S. Department of Housing and Urban Development (HUD) announced that the HUD and U.S. Department of Veterans Affairs (VA) program that helps homeless veterans find permanent supportive housing will, for the first time, expand directly into Native American communities. This support for veterans is provided through the HUD-Veterans Affairs Supportive Housing (HUD-VASH) Program which combines rental assistance from HUD with case management and clinical services provided by VA.
The HUD-VASH program will now be opened to tribes so they may directly serve Native American veterans living on or near tribal lands. To expand the HUD-VASH program, $4 million will be invested specifically to support Native American veterans experiencing homelessness by providing them with secure housing and connecting them with clinical services and case management. This groundbreaking new effort will expand opportunity for approximately 650 veterans who are currently homeless or at risk of homelessness.
“Ensuring that our men and women who served in uniform receive the care and support they’ve earned is a national responsibility,” said HUD SecretaryJulián Castro. “But for too long, fulfilling that responsibility to many Native American veterans has been borne by Indian Country alone. We’re changing that this year.”
Expanding the HUD-VASH program will inform and improve how HUD serves Native American veterans, as well as further the goals of ending homelessness in tribal communities more broadly. While there is a need for the program in Indian Country, HUD is calling on both national and regional Native American leaders, associations and communities to offer insight into the design of the expansion, including ways that tribes estimate homelessness, what criteria HUD should establish in allocating funding, what medical providers are offering care to veterans, and how HUD can target program assistance in ways that encourage the creation of new housing.
To expedite the program expansion, HUD has requested tribal responses through its Office of Native American Programs within 30 days rather than the traditional 60 day comment period.
In addition, six of HUD’s Regional Field Offices will host public listening sessions with Native American communities in their areas. Those who can attend sessions are encouraged to do so.
As HUD celebrates its 50th anniversary this year, Secretary Castro is focused on advancing policies that create opportunities for all Americans, including the broader Administration goal of ending homelessness among veterans. HUD-VASH is an important part of that effort to provide critical housing and services to veterans experiencing homelessness that also includes HUD’s Continuum of Care program, VA’s Supportive Services for Veteran Families (SSVF), and the Mayors Challenge to End Veteran Homelessness.
Since the release of Opening Doors, the nation’s first ever Federal strategicplan to prevent and end homelessness, all forms of homelessness have declined significantly, particularly among veterans.In November 2014, HUD, VA and the U.S. Interagency Council on Homelessness (USICH) released a national estimate of veteran homelessness in the United States which showed a decline of 33 percent (or 24,837 people) since 2010. This includes a nearly 40 percent drop in the number of unsheltered veterans sleeping on the street.
Since 2008, HUD and VA have awarded almost 70,000 HUD-VASH vouchers and served more than 82,000 veterans experiencing homelessness. Rental assistance and support services provided through HUD-VASH are a critical resource for local communities in ending homelessness among veterans.
In the traditional HUD-VASH program, VA Medical Centers (VAMCs) assess veterans experiencing homelessness before referring them to local housing agencies for these vouchers. Decisions are traditionally based on a variety of factors, most importantly the duration of homelessness and the need for longer term, more intensive support in obtaining and maintaining permanent housing. The HUD-VASH program includes both the rental assistance the voucher provides and the comprehensive case management that VAMC staff offers.
Veterans participating in the traditional HUD-VASH program rent privately owned housing and generally contribute no more than 30 percent of their income toward rent. VA offers eligible veterans experiencing homelessness with clinical and supportive services through its medical centers across the U.S., Guam and Puerto Rico.