June 22, 2020
Cameron Foundation Renews $1 million investment with Virginia Community Capital to support Tri-Cities rebuilding
Partnership spurred $5.5 million in Tri-Cities development since 2017
Three years after its successful initial investment, The Cameron Foundation has renewed a $1 million loan and deposit with Virginia Community Capital (VCC), a community development financial institution that makes impact investments throughout the Commonwealth. As the community begins to reopen from the COVID-19 closures, the funds will be deployed into the Tri-Cities and other areas in Cameron’s footprint, supporting their economic rebuilding.
As with its 2017 investment, Cameron’s commitment again includes directing $750,000 into a LION (Local Impact Opportunity Note) loan with VCC and opening a $250,000 impact deposit with its banking subsidiary, VCC Bank. The renewal maintains Cameron’s total investment in VCC at $2 million since 2017 ($1.5 million in LIONs and $500,000 in secured deposits). These investments spur community and economic development in the Foundation’s service area by financing vital projects, such as loans to small businesses that foster job creation, as well as mixed-use real estate projects. Such projects will be especially critical to reopening the economy in the COVID-19 environment.
Cameron’s 2017 investment directly increased VCC loan activity in the Tri-Cities. From 2017 to the end of the first quarter in 2020, VCC leveraged the foundation’s $1 million to make seven loans in Chester and Petersburg totaling $5.5 million, which created 52 new housing units and 27 jobs. Separately, VCC has made four Paycheck Protection Program loans totaling $125,325 in the Tri-Cities area. These loans saved 12 jobs, and included one nonprofit, one woman-owned, one minority-owned and one veteran-owned organization impacted by COVID-19. In addition, VCC provided in-kind technical assistance to support the Petersburg Economic Development Authority throughout 2018 and 2019 in meetings and workshops focused on improving access to healthy foods in the region.
“We saw firsthand the power our initial investment had on the communities that make up the Tri-Cities area, and as we look to rebuild this region, it made sense to deploy our capital with VCC and further expand our impact beyond our grant programs,” said Cameron Foundation President J. Todd Graham. “VCC has the expertise to be a capable financial partner who will help our region rebuild and become more healthy, vibrant and economically vital.”
Like other foundations that are moving into impact investing, Cameron’s investment funds do not come from a traditional grant budget and are part of the foundation’s investment portfolio.
Impact investing is a recent development in the field of philanthropy. Impact investors seek to improve the lives of people and communities while earning a financial return. These investments, especially at local levels, can deliver immediate results in job creation and enhance a community’s quality of life. VCC offers flexible ways to make impact investments, including deposits, loan funds, equity investments, and philanthropic grants. In addition, VCC partner LOCUS Impact Investing works closely with place-focused foundations such as Cameron seeking to complement traditional grantmaking with direct community investments — and in a way that manages risk.
“We have had a longstanding relationship with the Cameron Foundation team, and they have helped us further prove that impact investing is a tool for other foundations to consider to have an even bigger impact in their communities,” said Jane Henderson, President and CEO of Virginia Community Capital. “Combining impact investing and philanthropy to tackle economic challenges in this region is an innovative strategy. Cameron has demonstrated a successful pilot project, showing how a foundation can use financial leverage to draw attention to a region.”
VCC has made loan investments for several popular projects in the Tri-Cities area over the years, including The Ward Center for Contemporary Art, Trapezium Brewing, and boutique hotel The Jury’s Inn. Most recently, Cameron’s investment has funded loans to several local businesses and organizations. These includes a rental company, an addiction recovery facility, a waste removal business, a construction firm, and a warehouse facility.
About Virginia Community Capital
Virginia Community Capital is a Community Development Financial Institution (CDFI) with a mission to create jobs, energize places, and promote an enhanced quality of life for our communities. With offices in Christiansburg, Norfolk, and Richmond, the organization offers innovative and flexible financing tools throughout the state. In addition, VCC provides professional advisory services to individuals and organizations in low-to-moderate income and underserved communities. www.vacommunitycapital.org.